fruitage of the spirit's journal

Expressions from the Heart

Hidden Scars

Hidden Scars by Julie McAllen

Is it wrong to dredge up the past? Is it slander to expose what others have done to hurt us?

On the surface, some would say it’s not the “Christian” thing to do. After all, are we not advised to turn the other cheek when someone slaps us? Aren’t we called to forgive the offense and bravely press on? What is accomplished by exposing someone else’s sin? Shouldn’t we protect their good reputation instead of airing out their dirty laundry? I confess there are times I will cover over my wounds in an effort to protect those who’ve sinned against me. It seems respectful and “Christian” to do so, but God took me below the surface and showed me it was in fact the opposite of following in the footsteps of Christ.

When Jesus visited his closest companions after his resurrection from the dead, he did not hide his wounds from them. In fact, he exposed the holes in his hands openly in order to prove to them who he was. In effect he was saying, “look at what the sins of others have done to me.” Was that slander? Was it unnecessary exposure for the sake of getting even? Not in the case of Jesus. How do I know? Because even as they were pounding his body with their sins, he forgave them. Jesus was not uncovering his scars in any effort to hold back forgiveness, for it was already granted. Forgiving, therefore, is not hiding our wounds. If Jesus had kept his hidden, his friends would’ve doubted his reality.

 “Unless I see in His hands the imprint of the nails, and put my finger into the place of the nails, and put my hand into His side, I will not believe.” …. Then He said to Thomas, “Reach here with your finger, and see My hands; and reach here your hand and put it into My side; and do not be unbelieving, but believing.” (John 20:25, 27)

Jesus was known to his friends by the wounds he willingly exposed. In the most intimate relationships, everything is open and laid bare.

For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart. And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are open and laid bare to the eyes of Him with whom we have to do. (Hebrews 4:12-13).

God uses his word to draw us closer to him, Jesus honored his closest friends by allowing them to touch his wounds (1 John 1:1). Are we willing to let God open our wounds? Do we let others come close enough to see our scars and admit to them, “this is what the world did to me?” And what is the motive if we do expose the scars we carry?

“This is where they took out the cancer,” a friend confides as she lifts her shirt. “A reminder of my DWI days,” another jokes as he explains his twisted limb. “My mommy gets mad sometimes,” a child is coaxed to admit when the bruises no longer pass for normal playground mishaps. Some wounds are easier to share than others. Some go undetected for years they’ve been so skillfully buried. “I keep having these nightmares,” she finally confides to a therapist. “I know it happened, but I don’t see the point in talking about it now,” another evades the topic. Sometimes we tell the wrong people who abuse our trust and it makes it hard to be intimate with anyone after that. And so we live with wounds that no one else is admitted to see or touch as we isolate and insulate ourselves from others. There are, after all, many ways to hide the scars. How beautiful that Jesus not only exposed his own wounds and invited his friends to touch them, but he was also willing to touch the imperfections of those around him; healing lepers, deaf ears, and blind eyes. Sometimes all we need to heal is to trust someone enough to see our scars.

God is saying, “it’s okay, show your scars.” Yet confronting those we love but have hurt us deeply is difficult. If love covers over a multitude of sins, why bring up their sins? Why not keep the scars they gave us hidden? What will happen if they’re shown the wounds they inflicted upon us? Has Jesus kept his hidden? When confronted with sin, the humble are left to deal with their shame and seek forgiveness in the interest of reconciling the relationship. The prideful, however, will claim they have not sinned and blame the one who confronted them. Our weakness may hold us back from such confrontation, but if Jesus trusts us enough to discover the effects of our sin, we should do likewise with those we love—regardless of the consequences. God was willing to reconcile all men at the cross, but not all men are willing to see their sin there. We do no one any favors by not giving them opportunity to acknowledge their sins against us either. We are instead, opening the way to express our forgiveness toward them and invite them to greater intimacy in a reconciled relationship.

When we touch the wounds of Jesus, we are not merely looking at what Roman soldiers did to him. If you believe your sins were forgiven because of the blood of Jesus Christ, then no doubt you’ve seen your own misgivings causing the holes in his hands and the gash in his side. It makes his words of forgiveness toward you even sweeter. He didn’t exclude you by hiding his wounds from your eyes, for it was by his Spirit you were drawn there to see your words and actions causing the pain he endured on the cross. As you sobbed at his feet, he lifted your head to look you in the eye and whisper, “your sins are forgiven.” This is the pattern of a healthy and intimate relationship set forth by our Creator, because no one is ready to meet God until they first acknowledge the effect of their sins upon him. Likewise, no one really knows the gift of another person until they see their scars, even if some of those scars were caused by you.

Keep yourself in God’s love, Julie

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December 22, 2011 Posted by | According to Scripture, Expressions | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Separating Soul and Spirit

Separating Soul and Spirit by Julie McAllen

Paul’s prayer for the Thessalonians addresses body, soul, and spirit.

May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. (1 Thess 5:23)

We have a body. This is our flesh.

We have a soul. This is our personality, our intelligence, our humor: all of those little proclivities that make us unique.

We have a spirit. This is the quality in human nature that enables us to know and worship God.

Jesus warned that God could destroy both body and soul.

Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell. (Matt 10:28)

But we are not mere body and soul. We are made in God’s image. God is Spirit. And it is He who divides soul and spirit.

For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. (Hebrews 4:12)

How is soul and spirit separated? By judging the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. Our soul and body might perform godly acts, but have ungodly motives (intentions of the heart). It is a PURE SPIRIT God wants, not just obedient robots who perform works saying “Lord, Lord.” Therefore, it is the Holy Spirit’s work inside of us dividing a tainted soul from a pure spirit.

Our souls are tainted and capable of sin (Ez 18:4). As we grow up, we build into our personalities some things that we think are “us.” For example, a person known as very humorous to others could be regarded as a “funny soul,” but that humor may just be a wall defending a great hurt God intends to heal. As flesh covers our inner organs, soul covers our spirit. The word of God unveils the layers to reveal the real us. He separates what is truly of His Spirit created in all holiness and what is simply the persona of the living soul. We worship Him with our spirit for “God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in spirit and in truth.” (John 4:23, 24) We do not simply worship with our bodies or even with our personalities (soul). We worship with our Spirit. The Father is looking for such ones known as His true worshipers. Then “the Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children.” (Romans 8:16) It is not in our physical being that we have this revelation, it is in our spirit where we know we belong to God. Abba Father!

When body and soul are destroyed, only spirit is left. And where does it go?

When their spirit departs, they return to the ground; on that very day their plans come to nothing. (Ps 146:4)

and the dust returns to the ground it came from, and the spirit returns to God who gave it. (Ecc 12:7)

Solomon observed that the dead “know nothing” and therefore exhorts “whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might” for in the grave work ceases (Ecc 9:5, 10). At death our thoughts have perished and we no longer can do whatever our hands did in life. But Solomon’s observations are all from a human perspective “under the sun.” Here on earth, when we see a dead body, we see a dead soul. We do not, however, see their spirit which has returned to the God who gave it. That part is ALIVE and accountable to Him. Every knee shall bow, some in praise to the One they finally get to meet face to face, some in absolute collapse understanding their eternal destiny separated from Him. At the outset of this article, I quoted Paul encouraging us to keep body, soul and spirit blameless. We do well to care for our flesh and minds, but how do we keep our spirits blameless?

Jesus said a person must be born again if they are to see or enter the kingdom of God (John 3:3-5) This is absolutely necessary because it is with our spirit (not our body or soul) that we recognize our Creator, our family in Christ, and our eternal home. After all, it is our spirit that returns to God. If a spirit has not been properly cared for by being born again first as Jesus advised, consider the consequences:

You are merely flesh and personality, both can perish (Matt 10:28)

You can not understand the scriptures in depth (1 Cor 2:6-16)

You can not be led or taught by God (John 14:26; 1 John 2:27)

You can not know the truth (1 John 2:20)

You can not worship God (John 4:24)

You are not an adopted child of God (Romans 8:16)

You are not part of the body of Christ (1 Cor 12:12,13, 27)

You can not produce any fruits of the Spirit (Gal 5:22, 23)

You can not receive any gifts of the Spirit (1 Cor 12:4-11)

And you do not even belong to Christ (Romans 8:9)

Denying someone the Spirit of God is rather unchristian wouldn’t you say? Yet, many go through their religious lives unacquainted with it’s importance. If a person following a religion does not have God’s indwelling Spirit, then they are utterly dependent on whatever the priesthood or leadership of that religion dictates. In the end, not having belonged to Christ themselves, they are most pitied as they cry “Lord, Lord….” and recount all the wonderful things they did in the name of their religion and yet Jesus will say to them “I never knew you…” (Matt 7:21-23)

If you seek religion only, your body and soul can perform it’s duties. If you seek a relationship with God, the Almighty and Eternal Spirit, then you MUST be born again.

Keep yourself in God’s love, Julie

February 26, 2010 Posted by | According to Scripture, Expressions | , , , | Comments Off on Separating Soul and Spirit

   

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