If you trust the creation account in Genesis as I do, you know that God reserved the sixth day for His grand finale. That’s when He gathered a little dust to make that very first human. Then, from this willing fellow’s rib, God designed the perfect partner for him. Each day leading up to that point, the good Lord was merely setting the stage for the main characters, Adam and Eve as well as their many descendants to follow. Now, should you examine the account closely, you will observe a discussion of sorts prior to the creation of our first father. God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness.” (Genesis 1:26) Notice the use of plurals in that statement: us and our. Just whom was He talking to, His shadow perhaps? Logic tells us this was a dialogue among the Trinity: God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit. Each agreed that man should resemble his Creator.
The question must be asked – in what way are we like God? Does this mean that if we were to see Him, it would be as looking into a mirror? Does he have facial features like ours, or a body like ours complete with arms, legs and ribs on the side? Could He easily get lost in a crowd because He looks so much like every other person on the street? What does it mean to be created in His likeness? I believe Genesis 1:26 holds the key. The answer is in the ‘us’ and ‘our’. Like God, we also have a triune nature: body, soul and spirit.
As you ponder this, consider what sets each person of the Trinity apart as unique. God manifests Himself in bodily form through the person of Jesus Christ. God also presents Himself through the agency of the Holy Spirit. Finally, there is the very soul (or nature) of God: His attributes, emotions and personality. In this way, we are very much like Him. Each of us is wonderfully and fearfully designed with a physical body, a soul and a spirit. We truly are three-dimensional, aren’t we? Perhaps more than we ever realized!
There is no need to explain the physical aspect of our being. We can observe it with our eyes. The spirit and the soul, however, are another matter. Because each is invisible, they are often misunderstood. I won’t get into all the particulars, but for the purposes of our discussion, I should offer at least a brief explanation. The spirit is the part of us that must be born again. It is our spirit that allows us to see the kingdom of God and enjoy an enriching relationship with our Creator.* The soul, on the other hand, is the essence of who we are as individuals: our emotions, intellect, interests, ambitions, personality traits and so forth. While all these are functions of the mind, they rely heavily on the cooperation of the whole person. The mind, body and spirit must operate in unison, just as the three persons of the Holy Trinity operate in unison. This does not create any challenges for God, but it certainly does for us.
Disharmony among the mind, body and spirit typically results in problems. Each affects the other. When one suffers, all suffer. For example, if I incessantly entertain negative thoughts, it will eventually take a toll on my body. If my spirit is not engaged in the things of God, all will not be well with my soul. If I neglect my body, my mind will revolt and vice-versa. The mind, body and spirit are intricately connected. There most be agreement among the three, for they are one. If harmony is disturbed, all are affected.
The secret to coping and to wellness is to get the mind, body and spirit all in sync. We must also identify what upsets harmony between the three. For example, to undo what has happened to my body, I must ask how it happened. My pain is not the result of an accident or injury. There is nothing wrong with any of my organs. Nor do I have anything bacterial or cancerous. If a doctor were to examine me (many have) he would find nothing out of the ordinary, at least on the surface. So why do I hurt? And how did I get here? For so long, I had no answers. Now I do. Something disrupted the harmony between my mind and body. In an attempt to purge bad memories from my head, I flushed everything downstairs to my pelvic floor. Over the decades, the trauma continued to pile. That’s how I taught myself to deal with bad baggage; I kept a storage room in the basement.
My story is not so unique. There are many physical ailments associated with the mind. Depression is known to wear the body down. Mental stress is a major cause of neck, back and muscle aches, not to mention ulcers. Overworking the mind can cause syndromes such as Epstein Barr, draining the body of every ounce of energy needed simply to rise out of bed. Constant negative thinking weakens the body’s immune system. It works the other way as well. There are also things we can do to the body that will impair the mind. If I tank on carbs and sugar, my brain will sign-off before the day is over. If I don’t hydrate myself regularly, my head will get lost in a funk. Even as the body fights pain, it can be a major drain on one mentally.
When it comes to the mind, body and spirit, you can’t neglect one in order to take care of the other. Attention must be given to all three. There must be a positive flow through the whole person. Our wellness depends on it. There must be inner harmony in order to lead healthy lives. Even our spirits play a huge role in our wellness. When the spirit is satisfied, joy spreads to the soul. If the spirit is neglected, one’s ability to cope with hardship and suffering will be greatly hindered.
In a discussion of this nature, one must be especially careful. It causes the antennae of the pagan patrol to go haywire. No doubt, there is a great deal of eastern thought on ‘wholeness.’ New Agers have a lot to say on the subject, as well. That’s not where I’m coming from or where I’m headed. For the record, I am a Bible believing, born again Christian. This chapter is not an endorsement of any of the mystical mumbo-jumbo that’s out there. My objective is to reinforce what the Bible has taught from the beginning – that man has a tri-fold nature and that care must be given to the whole person if we are to lead healthy and productive lives.
It is my firm conviction that Christians who lived in the ancient world understood this to a higher degree than we do today. Modern society offers a lot of quick fixes or, more accurately, temporary relief that does little to address the overall health of an individual. So long as we can pop a pill to take the pain away, we don’t need to worry about proper diet or exercise or abstaining from harmful vices. As a result, we remain attached to the problem and only pamper its symptoms. Added to this sorry cycle are a host of health experts who praise the power of the pill and do little to promote balanced living. We can’t fault them entirely. The tri-fold nature of man is forbidden territory when it comes to the practice of modern medicine. As a result, we have become a pill popping people – whether pills are needed or not.
What does the Bible say about all this? Depending on the translation you read, you will find expressions like “witchcraft” or “sorcery” in several instances. The term used in the original New Testament is ‘pharmakeia’ from which the word ‘pharmaceutical’ was derived. So, if you’re asking me which remedy is New Age: what I’m proposing or what modern medicine is selling? Frankly, I’m basing my convictions on the Word of God.
By no means am I suggesting that pharmaceuticals offer no benefit in today’s world; however I will say this: they are not always needed. And they certainly aren’t a substitute for personal healthcare. It is a grave mistake to grow dependant upon pills if the mind, body and spirit are not in agreement or if one or the other suffers neglect. I am proposing that the whole self be cared for. Let’s purge our minds of all things negative and fuel them with positive thoughts and uplifting conversation. Let’s pamper our bodies with nutritious foods, exercise, rest and recreation. Finally, allow the love of God to pour in and out of your spirit. Nurture it with prayer, scripture reading and the fellowship of other like-minded people. I’m thus promoting a balanced lifestyle that’s conducive to wholeness and wellness. Sadly for some, that’s too big of a pill to swallow.
“And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (1 Thessalonians 5:23)
From: Pain in the Offering by Terry Michaels
* John 3:3
Sunday Morning at 9:30 & 11:30am
Wednesday Evening at 7:00
Please click this link to go to the online community.
Calvary Chapel of Austin Church
1601 Pecan St., Pflugerville, TX 78660