“I am a spirit, I have a soul, and I live in a body.” Have you been in Christian gatherings where the preacher asked you to say that out loud, or something similar? Perhaps you’ve heard discussions about whether the soul and spirit are the same, or are two different entities in a human being. Or about what part of you God dwells in through His Holy Spirit.
Some people get very emotionally heated over these sometimes esoteric theological/philosophical discussions, and use Scripture to try and prove their perspective. I’ve been present in some of those discussions, and I’ve taken specific positions at various times in my Christian life. And after all, our logo includes Body, Mind, and Soul!
Some readers may disagree with my perspective. But I believe this discussion really misses the point. God didn’t take a bit of this and a bit of that and weld it together with some cosmic superglue when He made you. He created YOU – a unique whole human being, capable of communication with the God of the universe, mortal, but destined for eternity. Quite a mouthful of truth to digest!
You are not a collection of parts. You are a WHOLE HUMAN BEING.
Why does it matter?
If you see your life as a collection of parts, instead of an integrated whole, it affects so many things about how you handle life.
- If you have a problem you’ll naturally try to figure out which part of you it’s coming from. Truth: problems or ill health are rarely from a simple, single cause. For example, if you’re tired all the time it may well be related to not sleeping well, eating an unhealthy diet, too much stress at work, and taking on too many volunteer activities. The answer usually is, e) all of the above!
- You will expect changing one thing to fix the problem. Truth: while any lifestyle change will have ripple effects in many life areas, most people need to take several small actions over a period of time to achieve results. For example, to get more energy you may well need to learn to say “No” more often, eat a healthier diet, enlist your spouse’s help in household duties, and plan a non-negotiable time to go to bed each night.
- You will naturally pay attention to one life area at the expense of others. Truth: our well-being demands we care for ourselves physically, emotionally, relationally, and spiritually. An active prayer life doesn’t prevent the natural results of being overweight, such as joint pain or diabetes. A healthy lifestyle doesn’t create a strong bond with your spouse: that takes intentional communication and caring.
- You will miss the completeness of the salvation Jesus offers. Truth: the life Jesus offers includes a vital relationship with God, AND restored/healed human relationships, AND positive, honest, faith-filled thought and emotions, AND a healthy physical lifestyle with a healthy body. All of this is part of the life He offers now, and it will be our experience even more fully in eternity.
You are much more complex and fascinating than two or three distinct parts. Don’t shortchange yourself, or God, by ignoring the beautiful whole that you are.
Enjoy the wonderful whole He is creating you to be.
Your turn: How would you describe the aspects that make up your own self? How does your view of yourself affect how you address challenges in life? I’d love to hear from you in the comments below.
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