As eternal spirit beings who have forgotten the ‘divine breath’ that gives us life, we need the Great Physician to write us a prescription for spiritual medicine.
As temporal American beings, we know a lot about medicine. Since 1990, we have increased our annual spending on medical prescriptions for our fleshly bodies from $40 billion to almost $300 billion. That’s an almost 700% growth rate over a period in which the US population increased 50%.
Beyond clinical medicine, we use many other forms of medicating substances to satiate our soul hunger pains.
Each year, Americans spend almost $15 billion on pornography. Worldwide, people spend about $100 billion every year. This means that Americans making up less than 1% of the population account for at least 15% of worldwide spending on pornography. America is the third largest producer of pornography behind Japan and India.
This kind of ‘medicine’ not only doesn’t help our bodies, it kills our minds, our spirits, our emotions, and our families. Yes, it can even kill our body in that it lures us into acting out in dangerous ways. Many have lost their job and their entire career because of pornography. I suspect the actual spending on worldwide porn is far greater than this $100 billion figure: ultimately, the cost on our lives and those we love is incalculable.
As an aside, I am on the board of an orphanage ministry in Haiti. Haiti is the poorest nation in the Western Hemisphere and yet the cell phone market is burgeoning. What this means is that just outside the gates anyone with a cell phone can expose our teenagers to online pornography. There is something horrifying about rich nations that export addiction to the poor. Forget about the economic cost – the spiritual cost of such a nation will be immeasurable.
Moving on, Americans spend about $35 billion each year on products and services related to weight loss. Yet we spend about $75 billion a year on beef. We spend $12 billion a year on cosmetic surgery. We spend $45 billion a year on footwear. We spend about $10 billion a year on hair products.
We could go on and on but you get the idea: we invest a lot on our flesh! Yet all this spending does not seem to quell the hunger pains of our souls. My friends, we need a new kind of medicine for the soul – we need a prescription for spiritual medicine to deal with our extensive human brokenness. Fortunately, we have a loving God who offers us just what we need.
For those who desire to have a healthy, peaceful and soul-satisfying life, our Great Physician offers seven (7) prescriptions for spiritual medicine to enhance the well-being of eternal spirit beings. We will look at each of these seven prescriptions throughout the remainder of this series.
The First Prescription
The first prescription for our spiritual well-being is God’s Salvation. Salvation is the process by which we come to know and give our lives to God through a narrow gate called the Cross of Christ. To come through this gate requires one thing: that we surrender all the ways we have tried to fix our lives. In short, we give up. We say, “I thought I could manage my own life, but I have made a mess of it. I cannot do it anymore.”
Entering through this ‘gate’ is an act of humility: we finally recognize just how spiritually poor we really are. When we come to God in poverty of spirit and ask Him to save us from our sins, Jesus promises that He will hear us and that we will enter the Kingdom of God with the assurance of heaven.
No one can make you do this. There is no magical formula. There are no right words. It’s not about mouthing empty words – it’s about our hearts being awakened to God’s presence. Our Father in Heaven will show you the way toward salvation as you seek Him. By the way, you might be comforted to know that He is already seeking you. You can discover more about salvation here.
The Second Prescription
The second prescription for our spiritual well-being is God’s Strength. This is such a critical prescription that I will devote the remainder of this entry to dealing with it. I will address the remaining five prescriptions in future entries. For now, we have to look intently on this issue of God’s Strength.
We already learned in Part 6 that our strength is not enough – we need God to perfect HIS strength in our many weaknesses. We simply cannot do it. We’ve tried and failed over and over again. Deep down, we know we need HIM.
As we come to HIM through the ‘gate’ – the Cross of Christ – we quickly start to learn that HIS ways are not our ways. HIS ways are radically different than our ways. To learn HIS ways, we have to learn to worship HIM in spirit and truth. As we do, we find that an entire area of our existence comes alive in ways we have never known before: we have been born into a new way of seeing ourselves and God. We are now deeply aware of just how alive we are spiritually. Before we knew what it was like to be alive in the flesh; now we know what it is like to be alive spiritually. We come to recognize the eternal spirit being that God has breathed into us.
We re-enter “God’s economy” and what seemed upside-down to us now seems right-side up. Before, we would never humble ourselves and wait for God to exalt us; we would never be willing to lose our lives in order to gain it; we would never believe that the weak, the poor and the simple can shame the strong, the rich and the intellectual; we would never accept that being great is laying down our lives in service to others. But now, having taken the first prescription of God’s Salvation and having entered into God’s Kingdom, this upside-down “God Economy” looks right to us.
With our vision cleared up, we now see our own strength for what it really is: utter weakness. We now know that we cannot do right and we cannot stop doing wrong. We have tried – for years – and we have failed time and time again. We now know that we are powerless and out of control of our lives. We now know that our natural instincts, personal identities, proclivities, coping mechanisms, drives, lusts, hurts, addictions, worries, doubts, fears, anxieties, and relationships are all messed up. We are distorted persons. We now know this.
We also now know two important facts: (i) we know that we are unable to fix our brokenness; and (ii) we know that medicating our brokenness with artificial substances no longer works. We know we are blind, weak and sinful. We know we need a greater strength than our own. But we won’t be fooled by the false promises of “Human Economy” strength ever again. We know that we need “God Economy” strength – a power that is stronger than anything we could ever possess. We now know that we need God’s unlimited strength in our grave weakness.
At times, we might recognize this but then quickly get tempted into some kind of self-effort. But no longer: we now know that all self-effort will fail. We have tried and tried and tried. It simply does not work. When we finally collapse in exhaustion from all of our self-effort, we faintly look up and see that God is reaching out HIS hand to us. In weakness and poverty of spirit, we now know that God offers us the ONLY reasonable way forward: His strength in our weakness.
His strength in our weakness is an endless scriptural theme. All throughout Scripture, God gives us examples of how HIS strength is perfected in weakness. It is not only that HE is stronger than we are: it is that HE prefers weak people because in them HIS glory can manifest into this world that the nations might know HIM by name.
We tend to think ‘we’ have accomplished all the good things in our lives. There is no glory for God when we take credit for HIS work in our lives and so it becomes impossible for us to know HIS strength when we think we are the ones who are strong. We take credit for God’s power thinking it is coming from within us. Rather, God chooses those who are humble and exalts them that HIS glory might shine into our world. He will withhold HIS strength from those who want to hold onto their own strength – you can count on it.
The scriptural examples are endless: the small shepherd boy David kills the giant and becomes King; Zedekiah will live if he obeys God and surrenders to the King of Babylon; the Lord reduces Gideon’s army from over 30,000 to just 300 so that Israel will not boast of her strength; Moses trapped between the Red Sea and the Egyptian Army proclaims, The Lord will fight for you. All you need is to be still; the Lord promises to heal their land if only the Israelites will humble themselves; Jesus says to the Apostle Paul, My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness (read: No, I won’t take your weakness away). The examples could go on and on…
The perfect example is Jesus who made himself nothing, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, took on the role of the suffering servant in human flesh, and humbled himself to death on a Cross in order to overcome death and restore our eternal spirits back to a permanent connection with our Father God. Through Christ’s humility, God exalts him to the place where every knee will bow and every tongue confess that HE is Jesus Christ – the Lord and Savior over all the earth. Christ dies to buy our salvation that we might never die but live forever with God instead of living forever separated from Him.
Through God’s Salvation, we are now invited back by God to come into His courts: Blessed are those who wash their robes, that they may have the right to the tree of life and may go through the gates into the city. (Revelation 22:14) This is the same Tree of Life that we looked at in Part 4: the same Tree of Life that God drove us away from in the Garden of Eden so that we would not eat of its fruit and live forever separated from HIM by sin. He drove us out of the Garden only so that He might redeem us and invite us back to eat of the Tree of Life once our sin was washed white as snow by the crimson flow of HIS own blood. He accomplished all this against all the strength of Satan.
If HE accomplished all this, what could I ever possibly do to match that kind of strength? Why would I ever want to fool around with my own strength again? I finally have come to the place where I truly believe that HIS grace is sufficient for I have seen that HIS great power is perfected in my weaknesses, my wounds, my sins and my shame. HE…is more than enough.
If He is more than enough, then what is wrong: why is His strength not working in our lives?
Check out my next entry and we’ll look at the answer to this question. Click here to easily navigate to Part 8.