Pastoral Series

Soul

You Shall Love: Soul

Love God with all your soul.  What is this soul?  In our culture, there is this popular but terribly un-Biblical notion that the real you is an invisible “soul” housed temporarily in your body.  When you die, that “soul” lives on forever.  Not surprisingly, when we believe this, we divided the spiritual from the physical, the sacred from the secular, and God gets sequestered into a little invisible zone with little impact on reality.

In the Bible, everything is of God; it’s all sacred.  God is in the physical.  Your body is the real you.  When the Bible speaks of your soul, it is a way of thinking of you when you are hungry, needy, striving to live and find purpose.  The Hebrew word nephesh, soul, is always linked to breathing:  that last breath you just took was from God, and so your breathing self, the real you, is your soul, with nostrils, lungs and capillaries taking in the grace and goodness of God.

To love God with your soul means a loving dependence upon God for life and breath.  To love God with your soul means you desire and need God.  A child’s love for his mother is all need; I love God with my soul when I realize I cannot live without God.

So love changes things; this kind of love works miracles.  Martin Luther King, Jr., spoke the truth:  “Love is the only force capable of turning an enemy into a friend.”  When we love God with our souls, we love those whom God loves – and thus they are our friends.  We may worry we have made ourselves enemies of God!  But God’s love turns us into friends.     Dr. King also said “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that.  Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”

If the soul hungers and thirsts, then we love God with the soul when we hunger and thirst for righteousness (Matthew 5:6).  We survey what we desire, and why – and we pray that our desires begin to align with God’s desires.  I want to want what God wants.  I’m not quite there – but I’m going to turn and flee from whatever lures me away from God and instead focus on the will of God.  As I desire what God desires, I will grow in my desire for God.  This is loving God with the soul.

To love God with my soul means to stick as close as my next breath – that is, to follow Jesus.  Jesus is to be the one we desire – and he models this very desire by his passionate devotion to God his Father.  What is it to love God with all your soul?  Think about Jesus, watch him, mimic him, stay near him, and you’ve got it.

James

james@mpumc.org

January 19, 2015

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