Body and Soul

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Last week I proved the existence of non-physical reality. For some of you, this required a frame-shift in your worldview, but not in how you live. We all presuppose non-physical reality even when we insist only empirical things are real. Each one of us goes back and forth between dimensions without thinking much about it.

This week we build upon this principal as we look at our amazing bodies. Consciousness is another form of non-physical reality which is interdependent with the physical reality of our bodies. The body needs consciousness (spirit) or it is a corpse. Consciousness needs a body or it is like a radio wave without a transmitter. Here again, non-physical reality (spirit) is presupposed.

The interplay between consciousness (spirit) and our bodies has been a focus for all fields of study, yet for many of us, it barely pings our radar as we go about our day. This causes suffering in the world. We are not just a physical being. Nor are we a physical being that has spiritual capacity.  Our mortal life is the hybridization of spirit within a “body of limitation” so that the two are interdependent.

The limitations of our bodies are purposed to grow our spirit and the spirit shapes the works of our body. Human suffering is the breakdown in this interplay.

The physical lines in our faces form around our smiles, frowns, and squints which originate in non-physical reality. Our bodies move into increasing conformity to our attitudes and dispositions of the heart.  The proximity of our soul to Truth (ultimate reality) forms the habits which govern our intentions with our bodies.  Low awareness or apathy produces poor physical health. The economic burden to care for the sick is first and foremost a spiritual concern.

The limitations of our unique body become the access point for the growth of our soul.  Our physical inequality reflects the unique journey of our soul. A child joys in the discovery of what her body can do and the aged fret over what it no longer will. The disabled often inspire us by displaying a huge soul not despite, but because of their limitations.

To enjoy life to the fullest (John 10:10) we must be intentional about right living (righteousness).  At a deep level we all know those things we need to change if we are to improve our lives. Our struggle is supposed to hard, but not avoided. We are not free to indulge our various appetites at will. The body must be tempered by the soul our healing will forever escape us. Neither should the body be repressed and our humanity diminished. Enjoyments are to be enjoyed.

Our greatest freedom and our greatest healing will arise when our limited body and our limitless spirit join in the perfect design of both. Our bodies are the present reminder of just how amazing or how horrible we can be. This hybridization means we are not spirit seeking to be free of our bodies, nor a body that has no spirit, but as Paul says we are an earthen vessel carrying a precious treasure (2 Corinthians 4:7).

This is why I come back again and again to the Christian story. Faith is not about evacuating our bodies into some disembodied spiritual experience. Faith is about thriving within the confines of struggle and imperfection (exile). A design so counterintuitive that God took the form of a man and dwelt among us (John 1:14). This elevates humanity and its potential. We now have an icon for what ultimate humanity looks like.

Humanity that is governed by spirit is compassionate. It understands suffering and heals it. It faces dark impulses and overcomes them. It stands against systems that oppress and offers a better way. This kind of humanity knows how to free the captive, open the eyes of the blind, and bring us good news (Luke 4:18-19). It’s all around us, in every nation, tribe, tongue and religion (Revelations 7:9-10).

Our limited bodies teach us to be patient with each other and ourselves. Compassion rises as we recognize others as ourselves.  As the soul and the body shape each other, then and only then do we learn to love. We learn to love ourselves as the body which is the temple of God (1 Corinthians 3:16).  We learn to love others as the temple they are.

From here, we learn that everything belongs, there are no dead ends, detours, or derailments. There is only a frail humanity that is striving to find its way and an ever present beneficent force that if allowed to govern will heal us. The brokenness of our body is the portal of beauty because it is the path to new life.