28. The World's Most Tragic Waste
One has only to travel over the surface of the earth a little to discover that God is extremely prodigal of material things. There appears to be a vast amount of almost everything: sand, prairies, mountains, lakes, seas, rocks, hills, plains, rivers, deserts, and only a tiny fraction of all these are of any use to mankind. The rest is, as far as we can see, wholly wasted.
There is on earth, however, one precious treasure which God is not willing to waste; that is human personality. Of this there is never a surplus. The sacred Scriptures are emphatic about God's regard for the human personality. It is written that God made man in His own image and likeness; not the soul or the spirit as a separate and superior part of man, but the whole living personality.
The tendency in popular thinking is to extract the soul from the total man and focus all attention upon it as the only thing about which God is concerned, and by inference the only thing about which we should concern ourselves. This has always appeared to me to be an extremely restricted view of things. Paul said, "Christ loved me and gave himself for me." The death of Christ was for the whole person, not for the soul only, and His invitation is to the entire man, the entire woman.
I think the whole modern notion embodied in our common phrase "soul winning" could stand a good overhauling in the light of the broader teachings of the Scriptures. True, the Proverb says "He that wins souls is wise." But the Word "souls" here stands for the whole man and not merely for his soul. The use of "soul" to mean a human being is common in the Bible. When Abraham set out fop the land of Canaan he took with him Sarah, his wife, and Lot, his brother's son, and the souls that they had gotten in Ilaran. Is it not plain that these "souls" were persons whose names it did not suit the purpose of the narrative to give? Certainly they were people, not naked souls.
It is not my wish to create difficulties for the pleasure of solving them, and it is altogether possible that thousands of zealous Christians use the expression "soul winning" while having in mind a true understanding of its broader meaning; but so powerful is human speech that the continued wrong use of a word or phrase may easily result in real error in thinking. If we would have a healthy grasp of truth we must see to it that we are semantically as well as theologically sound.
Human personality is dear to God because it is of all created things the nearest to being like Himself. Of nothing else is it said that it was created in "the likeness of God" (Gen. 5:1). Though alienated from Cod by sin and destined to perish, the fallen man is still nearer to God's likeness than any other creature upon earth. This makes it possible for him to receive regeneration and be fully restored to the fellowship of God, a privilege not enjoyed by those fallen beings of whom Peter and Jude and certain other Bible writers tell us. For this reason also the Word could become flesh and dwell among us. The Son could not take upon Him the nature of angels, but He could and did take on Him the seed of Abraham (Heb. 2:16).
These considerations tell us why God is willing to waste mountains but never willing to waste men; why He spends material things so prodigally and conserves human personality with such tender regard. While God does not waste personality it is one of the heavy tragedies of life that human personality can waste itself. A man by his sin may waste himself, which is to waste that which on earth is most like God. This is man's greatest tragedy, God's heaviest grief. Sin has many sides and many ramifications. It is like a disease with numberless complications, any one of which can kill the patient. It is lawlessness, it is a missing of the mark, it is rebellion, it is perversion, it is transgression; but it is also waste - a frightful, tragic waste of the most precious of all treasures. The man who dies out of Christ is said to be lost and hardly a word in the English tongue expresses his condition with greater accuracy. He has squandered a rare fortune and at the last he stands for a fleeting moment and looks around, a moral fool, a wastrel who has lost in one overwhelming and irrecoverable loss, his soul, his life, his peace, his total, mysterious personality, his dear and everlasting all.
From The Root of the Righteous by A. W. Tozer. Lightly updated to the language of the 21st century by D. N. Pham. (c) 2012.
Insights of the past for the present
Root of the Righteous - A.W. Tozer
ON THE BOOK SHELF
May your insights be worthy.