Kingdom Principle: Choices of the soul are expressed through the body.
The war of the Kingdom is not of flesh and blood, but first we must win the war that wages within us.
It is a scary reality that sexual exploration and behavior is more and more considered to be a healthy and experiential aspect of puberty. In the current context of our culture, political correctness is now driving that permissive behavior to be given an even wider definition of acceptance. The passages this week have to do with intimacy, identity and inheritance.
Most teens (and unfortunately may adults) consider inheritance, identity and intimacy to be:
- Inheritance as getting money from Grandpa when he dies
- Identity as formed by social connections & class, pleasure centers & popularity.
- Intimacy as reaching a climatic state of sexual arousal.
This ignorance is overcome through a puberty of the soul. Jesus brings clarity to the role of inheritance, identity and intimacy, but like pubescent teen searching for acceptance, the church has found itself without much inheritance to speak of asking what’s yet to come and wondering how to get back to where they once were, an identity that is fragile and being blown by the winds of culture, and intimacy is feared rather than sought (both with God and others). In the redemption and formation of the soul; inheritance becomes our belonging to God and joy and peace of the Kingdom (Romans 14:17), identity is found in the righteousness and holiness of Christ Jesus, and intimacy is the ecstasy of interconnectedness and emotional freedom be authentically present in the midst of vulnerability. James leads us on this journey says, be slow to speak, and quick to listen and slow to become angry – none of this is possible without the development of our soul.
The Pharisees of Jesus time were seeking to earn an inheritance and the favor of God out of their obedience to the law. Therefore their identity was bent on legalism rather than love. Jesus turns the tables on them in a way that the church as yet to come to grips with… “it is not what you put into your body that defiles you, rather it is what comes out of your heart” This is at the core of our identity as Children of God. God changes our heart. Kingdom inheritance is not about what you can get, (neither in the future or financially) but rather as defining who you are. Inheritance precedes identity, but it is not your identity. The Kingdom is an inheritance which you are to receive now. (Matt. 25:34) Our Father who is in Heaven, is the giver of our inheritance. In the Psalm and Song of Solomon this week we see the clarity of each person’s identity. Identity will precede intimacy, for without identity, we are looking to take from another, rather than to share in intimacy with another. This clarity invites us to seek true intimacy with the King and His will being done in our lives. (Intimacy can be expressed physically, often through sexual expression, but it is certainly not limited not isolated to that context.
The truest expression of the Kingdom in our lives is found in spiritual intimacy with God and others. We live this out as an act of worship. As highlighted above – we move toward intimacy not through sexual acts or time together, but rather with true identity formed through the process of coming to full awareness of our inheritance.
You can have sex – yet never experience intimacy and you can abstain from the act sex, yet still be sexually immoral. The intimacy that God desires is shared with those who have a pure heart. (1 Cor. 6:9-11) In fact God purses his beloved, and we are to purse God as our beloved. In oneness with the Father, we hear His voice and do His will. Last week we addressed that prayer can mature our intimacy much like puberty moves us forward into physical maturity. This week we are looking at the maturity of the soul or the lack thereof which is expressed in our choices.
Three signs of an undeveloped soul:
- Being extreme – (living from only one edge of the spectrum)
- Eating anything you want or to extreme diets or Vegan-ism (that’s my opinion)
- Being addicted to physically “working-out” or having no ambition/care to exercise
- Filling your schedule with overlapping social events 24/7 or living in isolation.
- Reading the Bible & studying exhaustively all sources of insight and teaching to accumulate knowledge to the extent that you are removed from all other input or seeing no power and relevance in the Word of God
- Engaging is numerous vices (gossip, drunkenness, smoking, multiple sexual partners idolatry, greed etc..) or living a life of legalism
- being a work-a-holic or avoiding work
Are you willing to ask another person to share with you, if they see you living in the extremes?
- Being Shamed or Shamelessness. (another extreme)
When the Song of Solomon is read some people are uncomfortable (shamed) because it deals with the beauty of the woman and the intimacy of a sensual/sexual relationship of a husband and wife. There are others who live with such shamelessness (lacking modesty and respect for self) that they lack discretion at any level when it comes to the human body, and as a result also have little intimacy or true beauty to pursue concerning sensuality and sexuality.
When do you participate in intimacy with someone outside of your immediate family? How would you describe the level of shame hovering over your church relationships?
- Playing the role of the fool.
The post two weeks ago highlights this reality, but this week the James passage presents the call to be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to anger is a reality of a developed soul. The developed soul, can hold there tongue, and create space for others to discover the truth.
How has God revealed to you in the last two weeks (or may reveal in the next two weeks) any foolish behavior in your life where you are lacking in wisdom?
How then do we develop or lead the soul. It needs to be nourished, just as the body and spirit do. But we must learn what it means to have a healthy soul, rather than simply feeding the soul. Health is found in healing and holistic formation. I have come to see this as the pattern of God for life. Laid out in the O.T. Tabernacle and renewed in the life of Christ we must pursue Physical, Emotional, Mental, Relational, Spiritual, Missional & Cultural formation as a part of the process of developing and caring for our soul. This is best done through one-on-one relationships with coaches and mentors. If you don’t have someone like that in your life – let’s start a coaching relationship between you and I today. (If your wondering – I too have coaches in my life…)
|Changing gears to make this very practical: It is easy to hide an STD and just as easy to accept Acne… neither of which are part of your inheritance in the Kingdom. The Puberty of the Soul overcomes and prevents both.
I do not have any STD’s, but I have accepted my struggle with acne for most of my life. These are choices of the extremes, and I bring them up as two expressions of an underdeveloped soul. Someone who has an STD – has made a physical choice to engage in a physical activity that was not honoring to God. (with the exception of being raped) But for the most part they can keep that a secret from the rest of the world. Someone who has Acne – has made a choice to engage or allow activities that are not honoring to the body. (I say this as one who struggled with blemishes/zits/acne for most of my life and blamed it on genetics), but now I have learned that when I eat dairy, allow stress to linger (getting too little sleep), and have poor hygiene (washing my face) – acne shows up in full force. Therefore – when I care for my body – I honor God. It is much harder to hide acne than an STD. But at the end of the day – it came down to choices I am making. These choices are made out of our soul, which is both undeveloped and selfish (not caring about the body) or developed and honoring the physical temple of the Holy Spirit. Sometimes I want ice cream and pizza or more than I don’t want acne. I can celebrate that I have never wanted an affair/adultery more than I want to honor my wife. But at the end of the day – it comes down to choices of the soul. The sexual immorality of an affair is not in the act of sex with a person to whom you are not married, it is in the lust of your heart. Acne is not a curse, it is a choice of discipline… Some will argue with me on that – and all I can say is– being stuck in puberty is a tough place to be…