“Now may the God of peace make you holy in every way, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless until our Lord Jesus Christ comes again. God will make this happen, for he who calls you is faithful” (1 Thessalonians 5:23-24).
It’s a good idea to pray often to God for personal peace in these weird and frantic days. There are a lot of distractions that will not only draw you away from God but also from your spirit and from having peace. The Bible describes us as being made up of three distinct and primary parts: spirit, soul and body. But what’s the difference between soul and spirit? Most don’t know anymore. We are taught to be materialistic. Identity is falsely rooted in the body. As Allan Bloom noted in The Closing of the American Mind, we know the ideal body but not the ideal soul. And with the current levels of academic madness, the stifling of reason, we are rejecting healthy bodies for sickness, and wander lost and without personal peace in the name of individuality.
True individuality isn’t found in a punk-rock-rejection of apparent norms. True individuality is embodied when our souls (personalities) choose first the life of the spirit. This does not debase the body. We must guard against this immoderate pendulum swing: body as either all good or all evil. The body, the flesh, the things of this world have their place, but they are not primary. They are more like the leaves of a tree and not the roots. The spirit is the roots and the soul is the trunk and branches. Without the soul mediating between the two (your free will to choose the life of the spirit), the leaves depart and die while the roots are chopped off and cannot nourish the tree.
We need all three parts but first, let us choose the spirit, and that which is of the spirit and can give lasting, personal peace: God. Our souls are distressed when we live primarily for the body. We grow nobly in peace when we live out of the spirit. And it’s God’s Holy Spirit that enables us to live in the depths of meaningful and experiential prayer. Communion with God through our spirit gives us a life of peace and maintains the health of our soul. I know this first hand. It’s not merely principles. It’s reality.
There have been times when I’ve neglected to care for my soul and been without true peace. Temptations abound, and it’s easy to give into the things of this world as if they were all there was, is and ever will be. I know better, but sometimes I get lazy. Or sometimes I’m working through some sort of pain or loneliness or frustration, etc. Other times I’m overwhelmed with people’s problems and the evils of this age. It’s easier to distract myself and neglect soul care. Occasionally I’m half right in forgetting myself. It isn’t wise to get caught in the labyrinths of the self without a map and a way out. However, distractions cannot rescue; they merely numb our puzzled distress and freeze us in a state of spiritual confusion. It’s only life through the spirit - prayer and communion with the Holy Spirit - that can get us out and cause personal peace.
My prayer is that we are willing to turn to God and trust His way of peace through the spirit. “Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:7).