The renewing of our souls will extend no further than our honest acknowledgement of our inner brokenness.
PART 2 IN A SERIES
Physical poverty has existed in varying degrees since the beginning of time. There have always been those without food, water, shelter, clothing, and countless other needs.
But as troubling as this can be, God’s inclusion of the term “poor” in this passage was intended to speak even more to those who faced poverty of spirit and soul. Our spirit defines our identity, our conscience, our morality, and the nature of our gods. Our human soul is the place within us where all of our beliefs, thoughts, experiences, memories, and emotions reside. Without the presence of Christ within us, the wellbeing of our spirit and soul – let alone our source of hope – can only be as great as what we’ve experienced in life up to that point in time.
Jesus not only came to proclaim the good news to the poor; He is the good news for the poor! “This poor man called, and the Lord heard him; He saved him out of all his troubles” (Psalm 34:6 NIV)
A large portion of my childhood was spent living with a single mom in an apartment in federally funded housing projects. Many aspects of those years caused feelings of embarrassment, inferiority, and poverty on multiple levels. Although my entire past has been redeemed by Jesus Christ, there have been times in my adult life where I have allowed myself to slip back into that poverty mindset, even though I know I have been adopted as a child of the King, and all of His lavish abundance is mine!
I feel pretty certain that some who are reading this know exactly what I’m saying.
In the Bible, the brokenhearted are people who are deeply aware of their spiritual bankruptcy and helplessness, and long for someone or something to save them. Theologian Marjorie O’Rourke Boyle writes, “Broken hearts are embodied in the Hebrew scriptures as crippled legs that have walked deviant paths, stumbled, and fallen against the God’s law.”
Many times through the course of my life I have tried yet failed, pursued yet ended up disappointed in my pursuit of what I believed would satisfy the longings of my soul. Each time, God has been right there, as a loving Father, to pick me up, dust me off, and take me back home again.
Psalm 147:3 (NIV) says, “He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.” And Psalm 34:18 (NIV) reads, “The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.”
The nearness of Holy Spirit while we’re in the depths of our brokenness is the most comforting, caring, nurturing experience we can ever experience in life. Allow God into your darkness.
To be taken captive implies that a force greater than ourselves has captured, ensnared, or brought harm to us, despite our having done nothing to deserve such treatment. Captors persuade us to believe what is not true, lead us to believe we deserve to be treated in this way, and strip us of our identity and dignity.
While some have encountered our captors through physical world experiences, others became introduced in other ways. Many who are reading this continue to be held captive in our souls to the memories and the shame perpetrated by a molester or abuser or someone who abandoned us in our past. Others are emotionally captive to a narcissistic spouse, parent, or relationship. Yet others continue to be bound to the emotional pain of rejection and abandonment from our childhoods. All are carrying a weight that is not ours to carry!
Jesus spoke these words to people just like us who had been taken captive by the perils of the first century world: “Come to Me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light” (Matthew 11:28-30 NIV).
And the apostle Paul tells us, “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery” (Galatians 5:1 NIV).
Freedom from captivity is ours because of the accomplishment of Christ, not by anything of our own doing. Paul is not attempting to motivate us to fight or to try harder to be free. True freedom is not found through our efforts. Release of our soul from the painful grip of our captives has been given to us by Christ. It can be found in no other place.
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