Jesus is a curate. A curate is a doctor of the soul. As a good doctor he knows how to diagnose the spiritual condition of each one of us. And one of his best diagnostic tools is to ask questions. Two of his most penetrating and provocative questions are found in Matthew 16:26:
And what do you benefit if you gain the whole world but lose your own soul? Is anything worth more than your soul?
If we were real honest with Jesus how would we answer his questions? “Well Jesus the reality is that we think if we gain the world it provides great benefit. When we gain the whole world we have more stuff, more admiration from people, more comfort, more entertainment. And who doesn’t want that? And as for your second question, well truth be told, we think there are any number of things more valuable than our souls, things like busyness, muchness, and manyness.”
Jesus teaches us that the soul is invaluable. And what gives the soul its worth is that it was created by God and for God. In Genesis 2:7, with powerful, poetic imagery we are told that after God formed Adam from the dust of the ground he breathed into his nostrils and he then became “a living soul.” And he told us that the greatest commandment is to love the Lord our God with all of our heart, soul and mind.(Matthew 22:37).
Jesus is clear that there is nothing we can exchange our souls for that can make our lives better. And when we exchange our soul for things of lesser value we experience loss. To lose one’s soul is not a statement about losing our soul to eternal damnation in the future. To exchange our soul for anything less than life with God is to lose out on everything God intends for us in the here and now.
Since the soul is valuable it is to be cared for. Dallas Willard, in his book Renovation of the Heart, says it well, “The essence of soul care is about strengthening our personal presence in the presence of Christ.” But how do you do it?
We believe soul care involves knowing, understanding and valuing your STORY. And it includes learning to live in life-giving SACRED RHYTHMS. It needs the regular observance of SABBATH. It calls for engagement in essential SPIRITUAL PRACTICES. It requires the presence of fellow SOJOURNERS. And soul care can’t happen without the help of the SPIRIT of God and guidance from the SCRIPTURES. (We’ll talk about each of these in more detail in future blogs)
Soul care is all about giving attention to the most important thing that is often overlooked – the real you!
“Our soul is like an inner stream of water, which gives strength, direction, and harmony to every other element of our life. When that stream is as it should be, we are constantly refreshed and exuberant in all we do, because our soul itself is profusely rooted in the vastness of God and his kingdom, including nature; and all else within us is enlivened and directed by that stream.” ~ Dallas Willard
Based upon your current way of living, what value do you place on your soul? How would those closest to you answer the question?