Service Video Message Video Message Audio The service video is unavailable at this time. The sermon video is unavailable at this time. The sermon audio is unavailable at this time. Scripture Verses Matthew 22:37, Genesis 1:26, Genesis 2:7, Colossians 1:15-23, Philippians 3:18-19, Psalm 42 Downloads & Resources Our Soul Dr. Jon Morrissette - 11/30/2002 Have you noticed the massive proliferation of Chicken Soup for the Soul books? There is chicken soup for the woman’s soul, the Christian woman’s soul, the sister’s soul, the teenager’s soul, the pre-teenager’s soul, the kid’s soul, the little soul, the golden soul, the grandparent’s soul, the mother’s soul, the father's soul, the mother and daughter, theexpectant mother, the couple,the single,the Christian family, the teacher’s soul, the nurse’s soul, the prisoner’s soul, the volunteer’s, the gardener’s, the writer’s, the sports fan's, the golfer’s, the baseball fan, the college student, the veteran’s, the traveler's,the pet-lover's soul, the country soul, the romantic soul, the Christian soul, thecat and dog lover's soul, the unsinkable soul, the soul at work, the surviving soul, the soul of America, the Canadian’s soul, the Jewish soul, etc. I got tired of writing down all the names, but there are dozens and dozens of these books! There are also parody or spoof versions. This morning we come to the fourth, and most difficult to understand, dimension of human spirituality. This dimension is our human soul. Chicken soup may very well warm the soul, but it cannot nourish and sustain the soul. You remember Jesus’ words in Matthew 22:37 (NIV) which says,"Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind." Just what is our soul? The heart refers to the will or spirit of a man, his desires. The mind refers to both our thoughts as well as to our emotions and feelings. The body refers to our physical existence, our five senses. But the soul transcends all three of these dimensions. The soul is the essential core of our existence. It is our inner being. It is the manager of our thoughts, emotions, and will. The soul runs our life. It is our central processing unit, our chief executive officer, the hub, the command center, and the control tower. The soul is the deepest part of our being. It is the deepest part of our life and power. Our soul can be oriented toward God or it can be oriented toward the flesh (our heart, our mind, our body, and our relationships). When oriented toward God the soul experiences tremendous peace and satisfaction. When oriented toward the flesh the soul experiences ruin anddecay. If we go back to the beginning of creation, we gain a valuable insight into the soul. In Genesis 1 and Genesis 2 God fashions the body of man out of the dust of the earth, much like he fashioned the creatures of the air, the land, and the deep sea. But that is where the similarities stop. First, in Genesis 1:26 (NIV) the Father and Son agree saying, "Let us make man in our image, in our likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth,and over all the creatures that move along the ground." And in Genesis 2:7 (NIV) we read, "the LORD God formed the manfrom the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being." Our soul is what sets us apart from all creation.God has put his image and essence into us. Our soul is the dimension of our life that distinguishes us from animals. It gives us the capacity to comprehend and discern and relate and enjoy and love God. I am always intrigued by the human-like characteristics of our pets. Our dogs obviously have bodies. Lara and I refer to our dogs as bed lumps because each night they just have to snuggle their little bodies under our covers. It is okay in the winter because they keep our feet warm. But in the summer they get booted out from under the covers. Our dogs obviously have minds, includingthoughts and emotions. As our girl dog Addie eats her dog food, our boy dog Reilly stands behind her trying to think of ways to steal her food without getting nipped at. And you can see him thinking, calculating, and weighing the risks. And on the emotion side, these pets get frustrated. Reilly huffs and sighs when he doesn’t get his way. Our dogs have hearts, includingdesires and will. They want to please us. They are afraid of making us upset or facing our wrath. This is a factor in their decision making. But our dogs do not have a soul. They do not have the breath of God. They do not have the image of God. A lot of people ask me what will happen to their pets when they die? Do dogs get to go to heaven? I have two responses. First, heaven for me is enjoying my pets for eternity. Eternal torment, hell, is putting up withyour obnoxious pets for eternity! Seriously. In Revelation 21 we learn that all of creation will be redeemed and restored. There will be a new heaven and new earth. I believe that new heaven and new earth will contain every good thing in this life, while transcending everything we know in this life. Our soul distinguishes us from the rest of creation. Our soul is what distinguishes us from creation. Our dogs do not have any thought of God. They do not pray or worship. Their soul is totally oriented toward their heart, mind, and body. They have no conscience, no sense of morality, no divine spark, no image, and therefore,no soul. We, on the other hand, have the capacity to be in relationship with the God of the universe. We have a soul, the breath of God within us. We have a God-consciousness. We have the ability to orient our lives in a way that animals cannot orient their lives. We can orient our souls toward God and toward his Son,Jesus Christ. Animals, by default, are only oriented toward their fleshly existence. When we talk about loving God with our soul, we are talking about orienting our entire existence to be in sync with the organizing principle of the universe. Just as our soul is to order our heart, mind, and body, so the God of the universe is to order our soul and by extension, our heart, mind,and body. If you have your scriptures, a brief Bible study of Colossians 1 is most helpful. Jesus Christ is supreme in every aspect of creation. Colossians 1:15 and forward is all about the supremacy of Jesus Christ in everything. Please follow along closely in your Bible as Paul demonstrates this. In Colossians 1:15-17 (NIV) Paul begins, "He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together." Let’s pause here for a moment and absorb what we have just read. Jesus doesn’t "have" the image of God. Jesus "is" the very image of the invisible God. As God, Jesus has supremacy over all of creation. He is firstborn. Absolutely nothing preceded his divine existence. He is creator of all things in heaven and earth, visible and invisible. Jesus is the originator of all power and authority. He is the reason for which the universe was created. All things were created by him and for him. Jesus is also the sustainer of the universe, "...in him all things hold together." Whether we like it or not, Jesus is the master of the universe. He is the organizing presence or principle behind all that is and has been and will be. Notice that Paul continues with this train of thought in Colossians 1:18-20 (NIV). Paul continues, "And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy. For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross." Jesus is supreme in the Church as well and in the lives of God’s children. In fact, Jesus is the instrument through which God reconciles and redeems his creation. Apart from Christ, all of creation is imperiled. In Christ, all of creation is at peace with God through Jesus’ shed blood. We have two options to pursue with our soul. It seems that we have one of two options to pursue with our soul. When Adam and Eve’s souls were oriented toward God, when their lives were being ordered by God’s will, they had peace and satisfaction. When sin entered Adam and Eve’s souls, when they oriented their lives away from God’s will and disobeyed him and rebelled, their world began to unravel. Their souls were ruined. They hid from God. They lied to God. They were expelled from the Garden of Eden. They lost fellowship with God. They felt shame. They experienced pain and turmoil. They became entangled in jealousy, murder, strife, and every form of evil. They crashed and burned. When Adam and Eve oriented their souls away from God, they lost their inner compass. They began to let their heart, mind, body, and flesh lead their soul. They were carried away by images, emotions, feelings, temptation, fleshly appetites, lusts, and sin. They became utterly ruined. When we violate God's natural laws, the result is ruin. Like Adam and Eve, a lot of people in our world orient their lives away from God. Godless marriages. Godless families. Godless parenting. Godless schools. Godless judges. Godless courts. Godless leaders. Godless work environments. Godless recreation and entertainment. What will be the inevitable result of godlessness? The result will be ruined souls, brokenness, and chaos. When I was young I was aware of the law of gravity by which the universe operates. But my parents had bought me this brand new bright yellow Huffy bike with thick pads. As I rode that bike around town I would hit the pads with my hands and I was impressed at how they cushioned any pain. I thought, "I’m invincible! These pads can protect me from anything! The law of gravity doesn’t apply to me." So I went down to the local water company where they had a concrete loading dock that was about four feet tall. When I got there I began showing an older man my bike, carefully explaining to him how safe it was because of the thick pads on the handlebars. I think he had an idea of what I was about to do because he said, "That sure is a nice bike, but I wouldn’t take any chances testing those pads out." When the man disappeared into the building, I peddled as hard as I could and jumped off the edge of loading dock. The bike flipped beneath me. My face crashed into those handle bar pads. The once soft seat scraped my tailbone. The bike pedals filleted the skin on my legs. When I was done, I was bruised and bleeding. I lay on the ground thinking, "That was stupidest thing I have ever done in my life." When we let Christ order our soul, the result is redemption and renewal. When we violate God’s natural laws, when we orient our lives away from him, when we disobey him and rebel, the inevitable result is ruin. But God gives us another option. We can let Christ order our soul and have supremacy in our soul just like he does in all of the universe. The result of letting Christ order our soul is redemption and renewal and purification. In Colossians 1:21-23 (NIV) Paul explains, "Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behavior. But now he has reconciled you by Christ's physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation— if you continue in your faith, established and firm, not moved from the hope held out in the gospel. This is the gospel that you heard and that has been proclaimed to every creature under heaven, and of which I, Paul, have become a servant." The Lord wants to order our soul just as he has ordered and still orders the universe. The Lord wants our innermost being to be in sync with all of creation, instead of at odds with it or in rebellion against it. I want to put two diagrams before you that capture what I am talking about. This first diagram shows the soul that is oriented away from God. This soul is totally oriented toward the flesh and obeys the flesh. This soul is a slave to its own will, its thoughts, its desires, it appetites, its feelings, its emotions, its patterns of sin, its body, its environment, and its relationships. This soul is torn and fragmented and out of sync with God. It is broken and dissatisfied. It does not know peace. This soul makes creation and itself its God. It is facing the wrong direction. Paul describes this kind of soul in Philippians 3:18-19 (NIV) by saying, "For, as I have often told you before and now say again even with tears, many live as enemies of the cross of Christ. Their destiny is destruction, their god is their stomach, and their glory is in their shame. Their mind is on earthly things." This second diagram captures the essence of a soul oriented toward God. Notice that the soul is totally oriented toward God. Jesus is supreme. He is Lord. The heart (will), mind (thoughts, feelings, emotions) and body are in submission to the soul. And the soul is in submission to Jesus Christ. God is ordering the whole soul, and by extension is ordering every dimension of human life. The soul is in sync with the organizing principle of the universe, God himself. The result of this is peace and inner satisfaction. Which diagram best captures your life at this moment? Is your soul in submission to God or in submission to the whims of the flesh? Is your soul fully engaging God or are you living on the level of the animals? Are you living as if you do not have a soul, as if God is not part of the equation of life, as if God had never breathed his spirit into you or given you his image? We were created for fellowship with God and our souls will never rest until they rest in Jesus Christ. You will never be able to get the rest of your life in order until God orders your soul. I will leave you with the words of Psalm 42. True rest for your soul is found in orienting your life toward God, putting your hope in him, trusting him as lord, director and master of your life, and savior of your soul. Psalm 42 (NIV) "As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When can I go and meet with God? My tears have been my food day and night, while men say to me all day long, 'Where is your God?' These things I remember as I pour out my soul: how I used to go with the multitude ,leading the procession to the house of God, with shouts of joy and thanksgiving among the festive throng." "Why are you downcast, O my soul? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him ,my Savior and my God. My soul is downcast within me; therefore I will remember you from the land of the Jordan, the heights of Hermon— from Mount Mizar. Deep calls to deep in the roar of your water falls; all your waves and breakers have swept over me." "By day the LORD directs his love, at night his song is with me— a prayer to the God of my life. I say to God my Rock, 'Why have you forgotten me? Why must I go about mourning, oppressed by the enemy? 'My bones suffer mortal agony as my foes taunt me, saying to me all day long, 'Where is your God?' Why are you downcast, O my soul? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God."