My body has a first name . . . and a last name . . . but what does my soul have?

It’s easy to focus on our differences because so many times the only basis we have for figuring each other out is what we see. And at first glance, we are all very different from each other. But what we need to remember is that if we are followers of Christ, we all have one very important thing in common–we all have the Holy Spirit inside us. And if we have that commonality, no other difference matters.

Galatians 3:28 is the verse for today.

28 There is no longer Jew or Gentile,[a] slave or free, male and female. For you are all one in Christ Jesus.

Now, does this verse mean that once you accept Christ, you’re no longer bound by racial heritage or governmental law or gender? No. I am a follower of Christ, but my physical self is still an American with an English-Scotish-Irish heritage and God created me to be a woman. But my spiritual self–which is what this verse is about–is beyond all that. My spirit–my soul–isn’t physical at all and it isn’t bound to any of the descriptions or labels we need for a human body.

During the time that we live on Earth, we have the bodies God gave us. And He gave us the bodies we have for a reason, whether they function the way we think they ought to or not.

He gave us the families and the family heritages we have for a purpose; some of our families are more interesting than others.

And He allowed us to be born where He wanted us. I count myself blessed that God chose to allow me to be born in America, and I know I take that for granted most of the time.

And I also know that God created me to be a woman for a reason, although most of the time I don’t feel like I fit in with others of the female variety because I don’t like painting my toenails or shopping or being overdramatic. In any case, God made me female and in a physical body there are differences between men and women. Obvious differences.

But when we’re talking about souls, everything we know goes out the window. Because we don’t understand souls. And we don’t understand spirits. We think we do. But honestly? We don’t have a clue.

But what this verse is saying to me is that our souls are far and away above our concept of existence. As we are now, we have to label each other so that our differences make sense. We shouldn’t most of the time, but we do it anyway. But souls defy explanation. Our souls supercede sterotypes.

Can we wrap our minds around someone not having a racial heritage? Can we truly grasp a person that has no cultural history? And can we really understand someone who is truly neither male nor female–not the mixed up Gay-Lesbian-Bi-Trans issues we deal with in our society (which isn’t an issue of sexual equality; rather, it’s sexual rebellion).

Of course, we can’t understand any of that. Because there’s never been a person on Earth who is none of those things. Maybe people think they are. Maybe people think that they can be neither. But it’s not true. It’s impossible physically. If you’re a human being, you have a race. And you have a culture and a country of origin. And you have a gender, whether you claim it or not.

Our souls, on the other hand, were created without race–without culture–without gender from the beginning. Granted, God chose to place those souls in physical bodies with all of the limitations of humanity, but the day is coming when we shed those physical bodies and leave this existence–and we’ll go either to heaven or to hell, where our lives will really begin.

And when we reach either of those eternities, it won’t matter if your family mostly ate potatoes . . . or if your heritage embraced Communism or Democracy . . . or if your physical body was male or female . . . . All that will matter is if you know Jesus because that’s what determines your final destination. Because God doesn’t make the choice to send anyone to hell; we send ourselves.

So what this verse helps me remember this morning is that even though we may be different on the outside, our souls all have equal worth to God. Our souls are all on the same level. There isn’t one that’s more worthy than another. There isn’t one with a better family–because we’re all from the same family. There isn’t one that descends from a greater country–because our souls didn’t come from a country. There isn’t a soul that is superior either for masculine qualities or feminine qualities–because our souls are gender-neutral.

The only difference in our souls is that some are redeemed and some are still broken. Those souls who haven’t made up their minds still have time to make a choice. And those of us who have already chosen Christ need to get it through our heads that even though our phsycial bodies may be different, our souls are the same–and we need to stand united in Christ now more than ever.

Splinter in the toe? Just chop off your foot, right?

4 Just as our bodies have many parts and each part has a special function, 5 so it is with Christ’s body. We are many parts of one body, and we all belong to each other. Romans 12:4-5.

Today’s verse is one of those that is used over and over again in the church, always focusing on how every member of a church has different skills and gifts. Some of this concept is continued in 1 Corinthians 12, talking about spiritual gifts.

For instance, one person may be very good speaker. He would represent the mouth. Others might be very strong at skilled labor or outdoor work–that could be the back or shoulders. Others might be compassionate and kind in serving others by doing housework for the elderly or making meals for the sick; they would be the hands.

Every person in a church has a different set of skills or a gift that God has given them, and no one should look down on someone else’s gift. Because they’re all important. One of the best lines in the King James version of the Bible comes out of the passage in 1 Corinthians 12:

 17If the whole body were an eye, where were the hearing? If the whole were hearing, where were the smelling?  

(Sorry. That verse just makes me giggle.)

I love thinking about the church as being a unified Body. I think that’s one of the reasons I love the Judgement House ministry at NewSpring so much. It uses every gift a church body possesses, whether it’s acting or praying or standing all night long or organizing or counseling or being able to ladle chili and cheese over fritos. It doesn’t matter what your gift is, there’s a place for you in Judgement House. I don’t think I’ve ever seen the Body of Christ more engaged than in this crazy, awesome ministry. And I don’t think it’s ever been more obvious how important even the “small” roles are; because Judgement House doesn’t work if one of its parts is missing.

But as I was reading this very this morning, a part stuck out to me that I hadn’t thought about before.

“. . . we all belong to each other.”

It’s true, of course. I mean, look at a body. How could I say that my hands belong to someone else? Or that someone else’s feet are mine? Granted, in American idiom we say that we have our mother’s eyes or our father’s hair, but those are figures of speech. I mean, I know people who have organs who were donated (right, Gramps?), but even if those aren’t the organs we were born with, we still consider them ours, don’t we?

It should be the same in a church. If we’re all called to work together to accomplish something for God, we can’t be divided. God left us all here for a reason, and we have to work together with Him to get it done.

There may be people in the church who you don’t get along with, but they are still a part of the body of Christ . . . and they belong to you just like you belong to them. We need to get our heads around this concept because Satan is ever trying to divide us. He makes us focus on our differences and on how much we disagree with each other or what we disapprove of in others–but if we all believe and follow Jesus Christ, we are called to unity.

We need to keep the main thing, the main thing. Jesus is Who is important. Not our pasts. Not our preferences. Not our appearances.

Now am I saying that we need to make allowances for the sins of other believers? Absolutely not. Sin is sin and should be treated as such, but how do you treat a believer who has sinned? Do you shun them? No. You confront them lovingly, realizing that but for the grace of God go you. No one down here is immune from sin, and the only reason you aren’t in their place is the grace of God. So don’t cut them off or think badly of them. You aren’t in their shoes. So how do you know where they are in their walk with God? If they say they believe in Christ, treat them like your brother or your sister and pick them up and help them get back on the path.

If your hand is wounded, do you chop it off? No. You put a bandaid on it. You stitch it up. You put oitments and salves on it so it doesn’t hurt anymore.

Wouldn’t the same thing be true for a fellow believer?

And this is getting more and more important the further time goes on, the longer we’re here. We can’t afford to keep lopping off parts of our body and expecting that we will be able to accomplish the same amount of work. That’s psychotic. If you chop off your leg, you won’t be able to walk well. It’s the same with the church. The church–meaning Christians–can’t alienate people just because they don’t agree on a simple irrelevant point. It would be like cutting off your own thumb or your big toe; they may be small parts but try picking stuff up or walking without them and you’ll see how important they are.

We’re all in this together. And we belong together. And we belong to each other. And if we can wrap our heads around that, imagine what God could do! Imagine what God can do with a truly unified Body of Christ, not divided by denomination or preferences, but united in Christ, the one Person who really matters.