YOUR IDENTITY – THE FITNESS OF YOUR SPIRIT

In recent years, there has been a surge in awareness for physical fitness, exercise modules, dietary plans and workout regimens. Shedding of the unwanted flabs and adding the much-desired glow on the skin promise to revamp one’s identity. ‘Once you look different, you think different and behave different and that marks the emergence of the new you’ – say fitness proponents. Ludwig Wittgenstein, the Austrian philosopher once remarked, “The human body is the best picture of the human soul.” I cannot disagree more.

If you think your identity is defined and refined merely by the way you look, you are grossly mistaken. Having opined thus, I must say that I am by no means against physical fitness, workouts or dietary disciplines meant to keep our God-gifted bodies in shape. Rather, what I am trying to address is that mere physiological well-being doesn’t necessarily make a healthy individual.

Soma (Body), Psyche (Soul) and Pneuma (Spirit) taken together comprise a man. That is how we have been created! The Apostle Paul in his first epistle to the Thessalonians writes, “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) A threefold wellness ensures the complete health of an individual.

(Image Credit: Google)

The Body is the visible part of a human. You get bruises, pimples, acne, freckles, scars – it all shows. You put on weight, it shows. You lose weight, it shows. You fall sick, it shows. And that is why we tend to get so conscious about how we look. The cosmetic surgery industry is rising to huge strides of prominence with many willing to go under the knife for better looks. It is not only about appearance, the body responds to hurts as well. You trip and fall, it hurts. Someone pinches, punches, pokes or slaps you, it hurts. In all these and many such more, the body is affected. In short, the body perceives all sensory stimulations.

The Soul is entrenched within the body and is neither visible nor tangible. It does not have a material composition as the body. It consists of the mind, will, emotions, personality, all of which can be affected without the Soul being visible. A sharp word of criticism sears the soul (without affecting the body). Years of abuse damages the personality (along with possible physical damages). That is why when someone treats us harshly or unjustly, we often remark that ‘my soul is deeply hurt.’

The Spirit is the inner core of a man. It cannot be accessed in a natural way. It cannot be impacted in a natural way. When God created man in His image, He infused His Spirit into him and so man became a living being. It is the spirit within us that keeps us alive. “. . . and the body without the spirit is dead . . .” (James 2:26). Jesus died on the Cross only when He gave up His Spirit. The scourging and barbaric torture drained His blood to the last drop. But, His physical wounds were not the cause of His death. A holy God bearing the unholy sins of mankind felt forsaken by God, the Father. Yet, this feeling of abandonment was not the cause of His death. It was only when He gave up His Spirit, that He died. “And when Jesus had cried with a loud voice, he said, Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit: and having said thus, he gave up the ghost.” (Luke 23:46) Being the life giver, He had the authority to lay down His life and to take it back again. God communicates with man through the spirit. And, the only barrier that can adversely impact this communication is sin.

So you see, ensuring a healthy body does not necessarily ensure a healthy you. The robustness of the Soma, the Psyche and the Pneuma taken together, makes a healthy person. Just as you would hardly find a perfectly healthy person as far as the physical health is concerned, so also it is impossible to find a person whose soul and spirit are in perfect health.

Our sense organs are so receptive to the external stimuli that many-a-times, we fail to perceive the inner nudge of the spirit. We leave no stone unturned to make ourselves externally presentable. We work on honing our looks, soft skills, talents, gaining expertise in various areas that would earn us appreciation, recognition and acceptance. We feel good about it all, little realizing that the inner man is sick and is craving for attention. Behind the veil of the presentable exterior, there is often a decaying interior.

Jesus Christ once asked, “For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?” (Mark 8:36)

Looking beautiful is good. Having an illustrious career is excellent. Being affluent is wonderful. Nothing wrong or sinful about any of these! But, in the quest of beauty, power, prestige, position, relationships and riches, many starve their souls and quench the Spirit of God. And, this is dangerous! For all must die a physical death. No exceptions. The Soma ceases at death. In case of normal death and burial, as the spirit leaves the body, the body hardens, becomes heavy, turns blue and disintegrates in a matter of few days. “. . . for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return.” (Genesis 3:19) The Psyche functions no more. Intelligence, confidence, will power, determination, memory, desires – not an ounce of these remain. But, what continues to live on is the Pneuma.

How many of us are concerned about this truth? The cares and pressures of this world stifle us so much that we remain oblivious to the spirit within us. And so, unknown to the physical senses, many head towards spiritual decay only to realize the reality in the afterlife when there is nothing left to be done, but serious consequences to be faced.

God has not kept this truth hidden from us. He is not one tyrannical scheming taskmaster plotting the destruction of mankind. On the contrary, in His indescribable unfathomable love, He has redeemed mankind and bridged the chasm between man and God that was created by sin. Right now, there is nothing to stop you and me from a complete union with God.

But this union doesn’t happen overnight. It is a process. It takes a lifetime of renewal and transformation to be who God wants us to be. At the end of this process, we become fit and healthy – ready to present ourselves before our Maker. Hence the Apostle Paul says, “. . . and be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind . . .” (Romans 12:2)

By all means sweat it out in the gym, but don’t ignore the call of your inner spirit. God promises to make you beautiful inside out and give you an identity that no one can snatch away from you!

My Prayer for us: Lord, let me not be so engrossed in the fulfillment of my physical and psychological needs and wants that I miss out on nurturing the spirit within me.  Transform me with Your power for an eternal fellowship with You. Amen.

 

 

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