Sunday, August 30, 2009

Soul Conditioning

"When my soul fainted within me, I remembered the Lord." Jonah 2:7

I was contemplating Jonah's situation the last few days. He was a called man of God, a prophet commissioned with a word. Why was it that he had to come to the point where his "soul fainted" within his very being before he remembered the Lord?

How many times have I waited until the very same point before I remembered from "whence cometh my strength?" Jesus commanded us in Matthew, the 22nd Chapter, "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind...." If we were following this great commandment to the fullest, we would not be in that situation; we would always remember and know the leadings and desires of our God.

Of the three elements of the "love commandment", I think we humans want to concentrate on loving God with our mind. We want to be able to wrap our heads around Him, as we are prone to say. In John, Chapter 20, verse 29, Jesus was talking to Thomas. Thomas had refused to believe that Jesus was resurrected without certain physical evidence. Jesus, as you remember, provided the evidence, but followed with this: "...You believe because you can see me. Happy are those who have not seen and yet believe."

I think we need to concentrate more on loving God with our hearts and, especially, our very soul. So, I started researching exactly how you could explain your soul. Some equate it with spirit, but I tend to believe, with certain scholars, that the spirit and the soul are different. I read that the spirit is from God and is totally spiritual, whereas the soul is not.

The best I could discern is that our soul is best described as the non-material essence of our being. The part that's not flesh and blood, but not necessarily all spirit. It's the part of us that meshes our spiritual and worldly experiences into what drives us as human beings.

I think that soul can be focused, like in the great love commandment. It can be who we are in God or Christ - the loving, caring, compassionate and righteous. It can be prophetic, evangelical and bring God glory as it was designed to be in the beginning. Or, it can be who we are within ourselves, which is where Jonah found himself and I find myself at times; those times when I have tried everything I know, the way I think it should be done, etc. At that point, when our soul is finally "fainted within" ourselves, we can remember the Lord.

I think lastly and most disastrously, our soul can be who we are in sin. Jesus warned us in Matthew with another ponderous question. "For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul." Matt. 16:26

We can condemn our soul to hell or we can let Jesus save our souls and begin some conditioning of our soul's disposition. The formula for tenderizing and conditioning is simple. "Love the Lord your God with ALL your HEART, with ALL your SOUL, and with ALL your MIND. This," He says, "is the first and great commandment. The second is like unto it. Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets."

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