3/12/06, Lent 2, B
Profit & Loss
"36IFor what will it profit them to gain the whole world and lose their soul? 37Indeed, what can they give in return for their soul? 38Those who are ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of them the Son of Man will also be ashamed when he comes in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.” (Mark 8: 36-38)
It is obvious in this text that the most important part in our Chassis is our soul. It’s the only part in us that has an eternal guarantee. Of course, we must follow the rules on the “warranty.” The soul, our spiritual self, requires maintenance. There is no exchange policy with our soul. We can not replace it with a new part. We either maintain the one we or born with or all is lost. Lots of us are guilty of keeping up our houses, our blackberries, our cars and computers, but we just assume that the soul is good to go on forever.
But Jesus asks, “For what does it profit a person to gain the whole world and lose their soul?”
Our soul is our life, our self. It is who we really are down deep inside. Jesus warns that we can lose our soul. Our life on earth is brief but our soul lasts forever. Jesus teaching makes us aware that we have soulful choices that determine our eternal destiny.
A cornerstone of Christian Civilization is that the soul is infinitely more valuable than material wealth, the things of this world. Mammon is not in itself evil, but it can be used for evil if it becomes more precious to us than the wellbeing of the part of us that survives death.
German theologian, Rudolf Otto, used the word “numinous” to describe the soulful awareness of spiritual things that cannot be seen, but are inwardly felt in our soul. This awareness of the sacred, the divine, and the holy aspects of our inner being that gives us awe. It puts philosophical language to the basic biblical notion that our soul is an integral part of us that is unseen, yet real.
Indeed, if you are reading this sermon, or hearing the live edition, you are doing soul with your soul. Our brains have a way of switching to the spiritually intuitive part of us whenever we think on things beyond our tight little world of everyday comings and goings.
Most of us feel that as we go around talking to ourselves, or thinking within, that we are living in our soul. It is in this inward discussion that the numinous is real to the point that we feel God’s Holy Spirit helping us think straight. It is in those moments that God is most real to us.
Without our souls we could not tune in Him who has made us into sacred creatures who know that God, our Father, loves us and cares for us.
It is with our souls that we feel affirmed and accepted by the God who flung the stars into place. This is perhaps our biggest concept and most important part of our lives.
However, we are also conscious of the fact that we can choose to live on a selfish plane which denies God and the higher life. We have the choice to push the Spirit out of our lives. Our text seems to be underlining that it is mammon, the things of this world that most often squeezes God out of our souls to the point where the soul is abandoned.
Choices abound: While in New York City last October we chose to go the The City Church and heard Morris Boyd. Then we took a cab to a fine restaurant in Central Park for lunch. We literally sat in a garden for our meal. We then walked down Broadway holding hands and looking for the wonder that is the City. In the evening we experienced the play, “Fiddler on the Roof,” which dealt with the Jewish holocaust. Our choices led to a noble and soulful day that built up our walk with the Holy Spirit. It profited us.
Today, you have made a wonderful choice to worship God. It may be possible to take all of this in and miss the soul food. Are there those who can sit amid these things and still think about baser things? Yet, I feel that most of us are experiencing all of this on a clear channel and that our souls are aware of God’s love, compassion and deep care for our souls.
sermon synopsis by C. Robert Allred, Th.D., Pastor