You Have a Spirit

I didn’t become a person of faith because I discovered God. I had already heard of God. I became a believer because I discovered that I have a spirit.

Our conception of the existential components of the self frequently fits the picture offered by Warner Brothers cartoons. Sylvester the cat gets hit by a mallet large enough that the physical Sylvester falls, while an ethereal likeness of Sylvester ascends up out of his body like a helium balloon. That duality—the physical form and the immaterial consciousness—is all that I once looked for in the experience of selfhood, and all that I expected the experience to be.

The Bible calls these two components of self the body and the soul. But scripture also says there is a third component—the spirit. The spirit is, among other things, the incompleteness deep within each of us that is ready to be completed by God.

The deception to which human beings fall victim is the premise that the soul is sufficient. Under the spell of this deception, I find the limits of possibility at the limits of my own identity. The spirit within me that could stretch much farther—vastly farther—is allowed to wither from neglect, allowed to starve.

The way of Jesus is found in the truth of the spirit’s value, and in the life that arises from that spirit being found and filled by the Spirit of God.

Significantly, more than just the spirit is renewed by this redemption. The rebirth radiates outward, transforming the entire woman or man. Paul wrote: May the God of peace sanctify you completely. May your spirit, soul, and body be kept blameless and sound....