What Jesus Really Meant by Losing Your Soul
“And what do you benefit if you gain the whole world but lose your own soul? Is anything worth more than your soul?” (Jesus)
Last Friday I posted something that was pretty deep. If you didn't get a chance to read it, I basically said that the word "soul" is an important word that we must embrace if we are to thrive as human beings. Your soul is the deepest part of you -- that part of you that makes you you. You soul is the thing that integrates your will, your mind, and your body into a single, healthy, and flourishing life. Your soul is healthy with there is harmony between your will, your mind, your body, and God's intention to bring healing to the world. That's a healthy soul.
But what about that famous quote from Jesus? What does it mean to lose your soul?
Okay...let's talk about sin -- because that, I think, is at the root of this. Sin is what happens when you lack integrity between all those components I mentioned earlier. Sin is the dis-integration of your soul -- which is the part of you that is supposed to bring integration to all the other parts of you. Sin, then, is a lack of wholeness.
Suppose I harbor resentment and bad feelings about you, but I don't want you to know that. So, I practice the careful art of facial management. I twist my face into a smile to deceive you -- even though I haven't said a word. Still, my mind and my body are dis-integrated.
Or suppose I struggle with an addiction. I may not even want to drink, but I find myself unable to resist the compulsion to drink. My will has become enslaved to my appetites. I lack integrity.
Perhaps I'm in denial about the true nature of things. Through denial, my will causes my mind to misjudge and misperceive reality. Denial is, essentially, my will hampering my mind at a level I'm usually unaware of. I'm blind now. I don't know reality. I don't know you. I don't even know myself.
Or it could be that my mind, my will, and my body are all in alignment with one another -- but I refuse to participate in God's intention for his creation -- which is to bring healing to it. If I neglect the poor. If I refuse to hear the cry of marginalized people. If I objectify my fellow human beings. If I bully, manipulate, or coerce. I lack integrity, because I will not allow myself to become integrated with God's program for healing and restoring creation. Consequently, my soul is out of whack.
Jesus rhetorically asks, "What do you benefit if you gain the whole world but lose your own soul?"
I used to think he meant, "What good is it if you make a lot of money and have a lot of sex but end up in hell for all of eternity." I no longer believe that is what he is saying.
I now believe he is speaking of having a ruined soul. Imagine the hellishness of life without integrity among your will, your mind, and your body. Life disconnected from God. Living at odds with the way God designed things. Constantly sawing against the grain of the universe. The various parts of your body warring against one another, out of alignment with the purpose for which you were created.
In that scenario, what could bring you satisfaction? Where would you find any kind of meaning or purpose? There would be no goodness. No peace. No joy. It does you no good to gain the whole world and live like that. Nothing else matters once you've lost your soul.
If you don't believe me, look at the Bible.
If you don't believe the Bible, look at the news.
Look at Howard Hughes. Marilyn Monroe. Kurt Cobain. Whitney Houston. Amy Winehouse. Heath Ledger. Philip Seymour Hoffman. Robin Williams.
Look at your neighbors. Look at yourself. You know what I mean.
Jesus says if you ruin your soul -- if your will, your mind, and your body are out of sync with one another or out of alignment with the purpose for which you were created -- nothing will ever be enough. More money. More sex. More fame. More success. It will be of no benefit to you. It will only bring you more misery.
This is why we have to talk about this. We live on a planet of lost souls. That is the fundamental human problem, and I don't see it being addressed much. This is not superficial; this is fundamental. This is not about getting into the right place when you die because you affirmed the right doctrine while you were alive.
This is life. This is what it means to be a human being. And nothing is more important than that.
Photo Credit: Volkan Olmez