What does it profit a man to gain the whole earth and forfeit his own soul?
Jesus is speaking more to “a diagnosis than a destination,” commented Dallas Willard. “For the ruined soul, the will, mind, and body are already disintegrated and disconnected from God.”
What does it mean to be Integrated?
“Our world has replaced the word soul with the word self,” John Ortberg writes, “and they are not the same thing.” Psychologist Martin Seligman theorizes that a society that has replaced faith, and community with a tiny little unit (the self) “cannot bear the weight of meaning.” Ortberg concludes, “ironically, the more obsessed we are with our selves, the more we neglect our souls.” If you read “Suicide is Painless,” you get a sense of the soul coming apart in a vacuous outer space – the void of meaninglessness.
We are creatures whose souls seek meaning, connection, and integration. Integrity is a deep “soul word.” The soul seeks to integrate our will and mind and body into being an integral person. “Beyond that, the soul seeks to connect us with other people, with creation, and with God Himself – who made us to be rooted in Him…” Your soul is what integrates your will/intentions, your mind/thoughts/feelings, and your body/body language/actions into a single, integrated whole.
We might say that the whole life is foundational to the holy life – for to be holy is to be integrated into God’s life and will. In contrast, an unhealthy soul is one that is experiencing disintegration. We might call an unholy life one that is disintegrated and disconnected from the Life who is God.
What it means to be Whole ~ What it means to be Holy
In an interview with Mother Teresa, a journalist asked how was it that she was “so holy.” Her response was not to feign false modesty, but to say,
You have to be holy in the position you are in, and I have to be holy in the position that God has placed me. So it is nothing extraordinary to be holy. Holiness is not a luxury of the few. Holiness is a simple duty for you and me. We have been created for that.
This was not the answer the journalist was expecting, and neither was he expecting the interview to turn around on to himself. Mother Teresa’s bold answer revealed how she understood holiness as something for which we have been created – created to be whole – to be integrated into God – and this says more about God than it says about any performance we might manage.
The Bible uses the word soul as a synonym for the word person, and it is my desire to decipher the mystery of our worth as persons to the One who made us for Himself. Now, you know what I’m going to say…
May you find wholeness and integration in Jesus Christ – the lover and redeemer of our souls.