You were fearfully and wonderfully made. Your being was made with purpose and with genius design. We were created with three parts to us. (Certainly not an accident that the Trinity is also one but three… one more way our God wanted us to know we were made in His image.)
Our being is made of spirit, soul and body. This is our identity. We are a soul, body and spirit. This is who we are… now what to do with it…
Well, Jesus tells us to be perfect. Yeesh... this sounds like a daunting task. But, here’s something beautiful… another translation for the Greek word “teleios” (which we typically translate to “perfect”) is complete. Jesus calls us to wholeness. Be whole as your Heavenly Father is whole. Maybe it’s just our current culture but the word “perfect” is a surprisingly messy term. We’re all obsessed with it and yet rarely ever live up to it which causes such disappointment and brokenness. I don’t know about you, but the word “wholeness” or “complete” resonates much more.
We are called to be whole.
Just as we can’t fix a broken vase if we don’t have all the pieces, we can’t love God with our whole being if we are disconnected within ourselves. We must understand who we are first before we can put the pieces together peacefully, each with its own purpose and design. This requires harmony.
Body, soul, and spirit must learn its own unique song set to the key of the Holy Spirit. Each has its role. Each is beautiful. When sung together, there is balance, harmony and utter joy. That’s when we can say, “I know who I am.”
It is our duty and our salvation, always and everywhere, to glorify the Lord. We were made with the sole purpose of praising the Lord with every part of our being. That goes far above and beyond just uttering the words.
Our entire body, spirit, and soul is designed to at all times be singing praises to God, each in its own language. When we do this, relentless freedom, complete joy, and unconditional love is waiting for us. We see it in our saints.
We feel restless and incomplete when we do not fulfill this role of ours. Suffering, brokenness and pain occur when we do not know who we are. It’s difficult to prompt body, soul and spirit to love its God when we haven’t tapped into the power each has to uniquely love God.
Spirit comes from the Greek word “animas” which means to animate. The essence of who we are is captured in our spirit. It’s the breath of life. It’s our life energy. It’s the highest part of us. The spirit can never do anything wrong. It is connected to the ultimate Source of life.
It is what allows for us to participate in the Divine, to be grafted onto the Vine, allowing us to share in the very life blood of our adoptive Father. “I am the vine, you are the branches” (John 15:5). As Fr. Cyprian Consiglio explains, “Life in Christ is a life permeated by the power and energy of the Holy Spirit… And the sap running through us is the fire, the power and energy of the Holy Spirit.”
The spirit should govern the body and the soul. When it does, there is right relationship and harmony in our being.
Soul comes from the Greek word “psyche” which includes our emotions, intellect, memory, and the will. This is what we typically think of as the mind, or even the heart. The soul has so many levels and anyone who has trouble sitting down in silence can vouch for the fact that the soul can be very hard to channel toward God.
We are inundated with twisted truths, false beliefs, internal monologues of resentment, anger, and grief… Saint Bonaventure explains that faith perfects the intellect, hope perfects the memory, and charity perfects the will. The means of attaining psychological health, or the health of our soul, is moving toward the three greatest virtues- faith, hope and love. A perfect soul embodies these.
A perfect soul also subjects itself to the spirit. It should know its place. This is why many saints say the greatest sin is pride and the virtue that unlocks all other virtues is humility.
Our soul very easily can get convinced that we are our own gods. The freedom we see in saints comes from their humility, their ability to subject their soul to the will of the spirit.
They accept that their existence is entirely dependent on God.
Body is perhaps the most easily misunderstood aspect of our being. The concept of “dualism” (body-bad, soul-good) has been present in most of the great philosophers who have been the greatest influence on modern thinking. Through the centuries, the body often was taught as being vulgar, base, obscene, primitive and therefore belittled and cast off.
Many of us consider the body to be more of a hindrance to loving the Lord than a tool. We mistrust it, see it as a nuisance, get angry when it doesn’t do what we want. We objectify our own bodies by seeing them as things we use to get things we want.
No wonder our culture is full of pornography, human and drug trafficking, strip clubs, casual sex… Our culture as a whole has seen the body as nothing of value.
But then we have to ask the question, “If the flesh really is just a hindrance, a cause for sin, an obstacle, why on earth did Jesus take it on?”
If flesh was actually bad, God certainly wouldn’t have… but the truth is, the spiritual life isn’t just spiritual. Our bodies are so essential to who we are. Jesus had to take on physical form to sanctify it to the fullest extent. St. Athanasius says that what God did not assume, He did not save. Our bodies have a role to play.
They were designed to be right there with us in Paradise. As Fr. Cyprian Consiglio explains, Christ’s resurrection was a resurrection of the body, not just His, but all bodies. The body has purpose. The body, just like the soul and spirit, was created to glorify God.
Heck, Saint Pope John Paul II wrote almost 1,000 pages in his book “Theology of the Body” proving the simple fact that our bodies are good, true and beautiful and part of God’s plan for our salvation.
Our body is sacred. Our soul is sacred. Our spirit is sacred.
They each have their own role to play in allowing us to love God fully. St. Augustine says, “Noverim te, noverim me.” Know you, God, and know myself. One doesn’t happen without the other.
As we come to understand the magnificence of who we are, we come to a greater capacity to love our God and to be loved by Him.
Fr. Bede Griffiths so beautifully sums it up- “The world is at once physical, psychological, and spiritual, and these three realms of reality are always interdependent and interwoven.”
Join us at Wholistic Christian Woman to come to a deeper understanding and valuing of each facet of our being so we can live with freedom in knowing exactly who we are and what we were made for.