THE BEING THAT IS HUMAN
Think about the last time you saw a reflection of yourself. Maybe you saw it in your bathroom mirror, or maybe you caught a glimpse of yourself as you were passing by a window. What goes through your mind when you see your reflection? Are you seeing yourself fully? How do you know? Are you seeing the beautiful creation that you truly are? Are you seeing the Creator’s design in you? Are you seeing the true depth of the amazing being that you are? If you look in the mirror and see nothing but a face, hair (or lack thereof), arms, and legs, you’re not truly seeing the full you. You are more than what you see in the mirror – much, much more.
Watchman Nee argues in “The Spiritual Man” that the Bible “treats man…as tripartite-spirit, soul, and body.” That is to say that we are by nature not just a body, but rather a being that has 3 parts, and therefore, we are tripartite by nature. To begin his argument Nee quotes I Thessalonians 5:23 that states, “May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul (aka mind) and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ (NIV).” Paul seems to be calling us, or more specifically humans, to a standard in preparation for the coming of Jesus. That is to say, we are to keep our complete nature, which is tripartite, to a high standard of blamelessness.
To support his argument further, he also quotes Hebrews 4:12, which states, “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.” We see here that the word of God is powerful enough to cut through to the deepest, most robust parts of us, even to the areas we don’t completely understand about ourselves but intuitively feel. God, our Creator, is able to see to the very depths of the being that is human, which is our non-tangible, non-material self (soul and spirit) and the tangible, material self (body). As Nee states, “And from this it follows that since soul and spirit can be divided, they must be different in nature. It is thus evident here that man is a composite of three parts.” We are indeed, more than what we see in the mirror and it’s important for us to understand this if we’re ever to truly find fulfillment in our lives.
Let’s dig a little deeper into this and start defining each part of this tripartite model down a little further. First, let’s look at the body or the physical, corporeal side of us. It is through our bodies, which includes the brain, that interacts with the world around us. We have our senses and we use these to taste, hear, feel, smell, and see the world around us. We use our muscles, joints, bones, and brain to move throughout this corporeal, material world. We are partially material beings moving throughout a material world and therefore, are able to achieve a connection to the material world around us.
Secondly, we are designed with a mind, also known as the soul. It is here that we find our will, our emotions, our intellect and character. What we find in our mind, or soul, is our personality traits and unique characteristics that make us who we are. It is here that we as humans think, make choices, and decide on our paths. It is through our minds that we have become conscious of ourselves.
Lastly, and most importantly, we have been given a spirit. This is the highest part of us because this is where we communicate with God and it is the greatest gift we’ve ever been given. God dwells in the spirit, and it is here where we find our intuition, our conscience and our communion, and our ability to worship our Creator. This is an amazing blessing, and so many of us fear, don’t understand this concept or truly get the beauty that this blessing is. It’s an amazing blessing because we have a direct line with a God that loves us, wants the best for us, wants to partner with us in our hopes and dreams, and is looking for us in the wilderness. It is here, in our spirit, where we connect with our Creator.
So then, how do all of these parts of our nature work together? First, let us take a look at the soul. The soul, if you’ll remember, is where we find our will, emotions and character. Our soul is where we find our individuality and it is in communication with our spirit and our bodies. Because we find our will here, in the soul, it is responsible for the actions our bodies carry out because it programs our brains. That is, it can follow the will of self, or it can follow the will of God. You see, the Holy Spirit, or Spirit of God, is communicating to our soul. Because of free will, which we discussed earlier, we have the choice to either listen to our God or we can decide to listen to the broken world we live in. It is the job of our bodies to go forth and do the work that the soul is asking it to do.
I hope that by now you’re realizing that there is much more to you than you can imagine. You are a much more complex being than many of you may have previously thought. Unless we understand this tripartite concept, we will never truly understand who we fully are. We’ll never truly understand our God-given nature. If we don’t understand who we truly are, we can never completely develop ourselves, and in turn, the fulfillment that God wants for us will never be realized. Therefore, we must learn to train, grow, and develop the complete being that is human. We must work to improve ourselves soulically (mentally), physically and spiritually. I believe two of the most important quests of life should first be our relentless pursuit of knowing and developing our relationship with our God at a deeper level and secondly, the pursuit of knowing ourselves at a deeper level through that relationship with him. If we understand ourselves and offer that back to God, we find fulfillment. But for us to complete our quest, we must train and get better. But we can’t get better if we don’t take on challenge. We must push ourselves past our comfort zones and this is where training is disguised. When we push past our comfort zones and do it in a healthy way, we come out on the other end trained at a higher level. The being that is human will adapt – the step forward from adaptation is resiliency – more resilient individuals can take on bigger, more difficult tasks. What happens then? God will invite you into even bigger adventures and you can take on bigger challenges at a higher level of efficiency and effectiveness.
The challenge that we face is the fact that the human being enjoys, and has a tendency to gravitate towards, comfort. It is in our make-up to try and keep the waters of life from stirring too much. In fact, this part of our make-up is a well-researched phenomenon called homeostasis. Homeostasis is a natural occurring state that goes on inside the human organism. It is the ability of a human to seek and maintain conditions of stability or equilibrium within its internal environment to better handle outside changes and challenges around us. The science of homeostasis can be found in biology, physiology, and psychology, and I believe we can find it in our spirituality as well. At the end of the day, most humans feel better and more comfortable if we’re not rocking the boat or getting outside our comfort zones too much and that leads to complacency. But the fact is, we can’t mature and grow without pushing past our limits from time to time. If we strive to stay comfortable, we stay the same and our growth will be challenged. Living in the comfort zone is just surviving and that goes against the wishes of our God who wants to see us thrive.
Pushing past our comfort zones is called training. We must look for opportunities to try, smell, taste, touch, feel and hear new challenges. And this leads me to my next point. I have a fear that I carry around with me. I fear that one day I’ll meet my Creator and realize that I had not given Him my best. I fear that someday I’ll realize that I didn’t take the gifts, talents, and resources that He instilled in me and exhausted them for His glory. Instead, I want to hear from my master, the Supreme Being of the universe, the words from Matthew 25:23: “…Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!” I have this fear, not because I feel that He will love me any less than He does right now. I have this fear because I desire to give Him my best out of respect of the one who made me and gave me life. And so I train. I train myself soulically, physically, and spiritually every day in the hope of getting the best out of myself and then stepping forth in the world to show the glory of God through my complete being.
With that said, for me true fitness is about performance. In other words, I want to perform at the highest level I’m capable of in this world in which I currently live. But in order to do so, I’ve got to be ready to go at the highest level soulically, physically and spiritually. Therefore, I desire complete human being performance and we at Junto Tribe (JT) desire the same for you. Imagine the awesome feats we could all achieve in the name of our Creator if we took on a life where we trained and worked to perform at the highest levels possible. With all that said, JT has its own definition of total human being performance, that is, to individually have each soul, body, and spirit prepared to the highest level for the rigors of life. Training for performance is:
A specific developmental program designed and driven by the needs of the individual and the performance profile that individual needs for life success. The aim is to improve specific soulical, physical, and spiritual health so that the individual can take on the most challenging tasks they have to face on a daily basis with tenacity, strength and endurance.
Think about it. If you have trained your complete being – soul, body, and spirit to the best of your abilities, and have a good strong balance in each area, you will be able to take on the biggest challenges of your life with greater tenacity, strength and endurance. Furthermore, if you’re prepared for the toughest challenges, the lesser challenges you face on a daily basis will be easier to take on and handle. Like a highly trained olympic athlete, you’ll be prepared for the trials, only these trials will be facing the bigger challenge of navigating through a broken world in search of our God whom we’ve separated ourselves from and then helping others do the same.
We are capable of this! We can be better than we were yesterday. But we must get off our couches of comfort and go out and meet the challenge. And here’s the best news, the Creator of all that is, was and will be is standing by to help you through this wilderness. He loves you, wants to protect you and see you thrive and not just survive in life.
SEEK. ADAPT. ENDURE.
True development in life is a process, and as I’ve said, we’ll never be fully finished with that process while we still have breath in our lungs and impulses in our brains. We must make a commitment to continue to work, strive, and push to improve ourselves everyday for the rest of our lives. The only finish line is when we leave this world and join our Father in Heaven; a day that I look forward to more and more as I learn more about Him.
As you’ve navigated through the Junto Tribe (JT) message, I’m sure you’ve noticed the words, Seek. Adapt. Endure. I ask you to keep those words in the back of your mind as we continue to unravel the message that God’s laid on our hearts here at JT because we feel they are the process we must all go through in order to become the complete being God has created us to be. But before we expand our understanding of these three little words, I want to first discuss the genius we have lurking inside us all.
The Dictionary uses a lot of great language to explain this concept of genius. Phrases like “an exceptional natural capacity of intellect” and “natural ability or capacity” and “distinctive character or spirit” are used. Words like ability, wisdom, aptitude, brilliance, imagination, capacity, ingenuity, creativity, and capability are also used to bring light to the true meaning of this word genius. Now, the interesting thing to this idea of genius is that most of us don’t think we are. That is, we think that true genius comes from the people of the world that are winning Nobel Prizes, building rockets, or standing in front of a massive chalk board, feverishly working through higher math in some otherworldly trance. But it’s simply not true. We all have a genius lurking inside us. God doesn’t make junk, and even though the hordes make us believe there is no order to this universe, we must understand and see the amazing, finely tuned universe we live in and are part of. He only makes incredible, fascinating, complex works of art. You are part of creation, born for a purpose, longing for meaning to your life. Why? God created you with a purpose, meaning, and goal in mind, and could it be that somewhere deep down inside your soul you want to find your true nature?
You too are a genius, you have a light inside you – let it shine. As Ralph Waldo Emerson states:
“A man should learn to detect and watch that gleam of light which flashes across his mind from within, more than the lustre of the firmament of bards and sages. Yet he dismisses without notice his thought, because it is his. In every work of genius we recognize our own rejected thoughts: they come back to us with a certain alienated majesty.”
Is it possible that light that Emerson was convinced was inside us is the power of our true nature trying to be discovered? Could it be the genius that the Supreme Authority of the universe has given you? You were born for a reason – you have gifts, talents, and resources unique to only you. Are you working to develop and grow those gifts? Are you diligently working, minute-by-minute, hour-by-hour, day-by-day, and year-by-year to bring about the best version of yourself? Don’t we owe this to the God of all we see and don’t see? I think so.
First we must seek. That is, we must go in search of the best versions of ourselves. We must ask God to help us find our genius. He knows us better than we know ourselves and we must ask for His guidance. I have stated earlier that our first goal should be to understand and learn more about our God because that relationship with Him is the most important relationship we have. The more we understand Him and His expectations, the better we understand ourselves, and the better we’ll be prepared to love others and help others find His kingdom as well. So, we must look for our identity in Him, and Jesus left us instructions on how we can do this everyday. Look at John 14:15-17:
“If you love me, you will obey what I command. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor to be with you forever – the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you.”
Jesus, our Creator, gave us a Counselor that we have access to 24 hours a day, rain or shine, in good times and bad. This Counselor, the Holy Spirit, is our direct connection to Jesus and He’s asking you to use His counsel. Seek by asking God at all times, all places, and all circumstances for His guidance. Pray that He increases your sensitivity to His hearing voice and be able to move in His guidance. Begin to grow in the Holy Spirit and pray that He increases His peace and power on you. We must make it a daily goal to seek opportunity for growth and fine-tuning each and every day within the relationship of our Father.
Secondly, we must adapt. As I’ve said, the being that is human has a great capacity for growth and adaptation. If we work to make change and improvements – it happens. We will become better if we commit ourselves, work at it, and keep moving forward. Some of you may be saying, “Yeah, but you’re not dealing with what I’m dealing with. This (fill in what ails you here) is keeping me from being the person I want to be. I understand that sickness, injury, distress, pain, and aging minds and bodies can keep us from becoming who we truly want to be, but it doesn’t mean we should stop trying to grow, adapt and heal. For example, I am reminded of a soldier I worked with that had literally been blown-up when an improvised explosive device hit the vehicle he was riding in. This blast took his arm from the shoulder down and his leg from the hip down. This particular soldier suffered through much during his recovery process – pain that many of us will hopefully never know on so many different levels. As I grew to know this warrior more and more, I couldn’t help but be inspired by him. After his injury, he competed in adventure races, had begun to plan his future that he felt was bright, and always had the most infectious positive mood. Death stared him down and he didn’t blink. He tucked his chin and refused to go quietly in the night. And here’s my favorite part, he wore a shirt from time to time that had one word on it, “Adapted.” Not “Adapting” as if he was still working towards getting his arm and leg back. Not “Hoping to adapt.” Not “Working towards a new adaptation.” It simply said, “Adapted.” This was now whom he was and he was going forth with his life with great strength and tenacity. Men, we can adapt but we must work and not blink at the challenge.
Lastly, we must endure. We must continue to keep the process of seeking and adapting for the rest of our lives. Just like this soldier, we must work diligently with focused energy for life. We can continue to change and develop. We can be better than we were yesterday and we can use our gifts and talents to help others seek and adapt. I watched my father-in-law do this as his otherwise strong, 260 lb., 6’ 4” firefighter frame was brought to its knees by cancer. As he slowly was eaten away by the disease, he continued to endure and faced the challenge with great strength. Strength that those who knew him knew came from a God he believed in, revered, and was ready to meet. Before he died, he would talk to me for hours about my own personal development. He would challenge me to improve, use my talents and gifts, and to pay that forward to those around me. And to this day, his words and his example are something I try to follow everyday of my life. We must endure until our last breath. God did not give you a spirit of timidity.