A Unified WholeBy Nathan Mates
"Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength." - Deuteronomy 6:5
[While this is somewhat in the same train of thought as my previous writings One Church, Many Functions, Practical Support, and The Dangers of Overemphasis, the focus of this is slightly more inward-- dealing with how individuals are composed, instead of the body as a whole.]
Man was created for several purposes: to conform to the image of God [Genesis 1:26-27], to rule over creation [Genesis 1:28], and friendship with God [John 15:15]. God made us different than the animals we lead by giving us intellects to understand him, and emotions to deal with others. We were not created to neglect any of the wonderful gifts and abilities he gives all of this, and that includes the functions of our bodies: physical strength, emotion, and mind.
As the Deuteronomy 6:5 quote above says, we are capable of loving God with all the parts of our bodies-- not just our emotions from the heart, but with our bodies as a unified whole. Deuteronomy 4:29 has the same idea in a more limited form: "But if from there you seek the LORD your God, you will find him if you look for him with all your heart and with all your soul." This same phrase is echoed 8 more times in Deuteronomy, indicating that it's no one-time comment. [Deuteronomy 4:29, 6:5 10:12, 11:13, 13:3, 26:16, 30:2 30:6 and 30:10]
Jesus himself later quoted this verse in detailing how we are to live our lives: "One of the teachers of the law came and heard them debating. Noticing that Jesus had given them a good answer, he asked him, "Of all the commandments, which is the most important?" "The most important one," answered Jesus, "is this: 'Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.' The second is this: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.' There is no commandment greater than these."" [Mark 12:28-31]
This begs the question: if you know how to love with their emotions (heart), how do you love with your mind? How do you love with your soul? How do you love with your strength? Jesus told us to do all four forms of love as a commandment-- not a suggestion, not something for "advanced Christians" to do, but a requirement for everyone.
How do you love God with one's mind? One answer is that you want to make your mind more like God's. In doing so, you demonstrate that you highly value God's mind. And, how does one learn what God's mind is? Quite simple: read the Bible. God didn't take a mega-sized chisel and put his word into a mountainside somewhere-- he spent some time getting a whole bunch of humans to write things down for him, making it available in a far more portable format. Since Gutenberg, it's possible for everyone in a first world nation to own a printed copy of the Bible, or several copies.
So, how often are you reading God's word? An average of 3-4 chapters per day will get you through the Bible cover to cover in about a year-- and then start over to keep God's words in your mind. As you read and re-read the Bible, you start noticing connections and see the Bible as not just a bunch of independent stories, but a complete story that paints a big picture of God's redemption of mankind. There'll be plenty of stuff you may not understand at the time, or think of as boring, but continuing to read on in faith can lead to rich rewards as God connects the dots for you.
How also do you love God with your strength? Like the mind, it's simple: use it with the aims of becoming more like Christ. Do you put your body to use in satisfying the aims of the flesh, or do you seek to serve others through your actions? Similarly, with your soul, does your soul long to be more like Jesus, or does it seek other idols to worship?
In dealing with others, you may find that their problems aren't just in one category: physical, emotional, mental, or spiritual-- as humans are more than the sum of those parts, a problem in one may affect another. Jesus routinely healed more than one ailment a person had. With a paralytic (Luke 5:17-26), Jesus first healed his sins (verse 20), and then his body (verse 24). Similarly, with the bleeding woman (Mark 5:24-34), Jesus wasn't content to merely heal her body, he restored her standing in society by making sure that her unclean status was canceled to the public's knowledge.
In our lives, someone with a physical ailment or condition may also need emotional help in dealing with the condition. Someone with a spiritual problem may have effects on their emotions or intellect. So, if someone comes to you with a problem, consider not just the immediate condition they've got, but how it affects all their other parts. We must be sensitive to diagnosing, praying for, and healing of people as a sum of many parts, not separated systems that never connect.