On Wellness the Way God Intends Cathy Byrd January 15, 2017
As perspectives on wellness in the most recent issue of The Interpreter magazine of the The United Methodist Church note, we are three-part beings- possessing “body, mind, and spirit”. Whenever one wants to refer to the holistic nature of people we generally see that phrase –“ body, mind, and spirit”. Google that phrase and you’ll find a multitude of references to it. It is prolifically infused throughout our culture. As I learned more about what motivates and characterizes human behavior, I realized though that our culture has it all backwards when it defines us as “body , mind, and spirit”……and, in all likelihood, that order is a deception that satan has both perpetrated and perpetuated…..in order to keep us focused on the physical aspects of life, and keep us stunted and underdeveloped in the spiritual aspects of life. So I set out to flip that paradigm so that, at least for those of us who call ourselves Christian, it becomes a properly ordered triad of “Spirit, mind, and body”, as it is in the scripture.
A number of years ago when I first googled “body, mind, and spirit” and then googled the flipped phrase, I found only 1 reference to that latter order of things, “spirit, mind, and body’. It was a reprint of a 1955 article in Time magazine about the YMCA. The YMCA’s logo included the triad in that order. Today there are many more references that contain this flipped triad – spirit, mind, body, but most of them are directed toward advice on physical health and wellness and how to influence it through mental and spiritual means….again, the primary focus is on status of and impact on the physical body.
1 Thessalonians 5:23 is the only place in Scripture where I have found the triad together and it is in the order that I believe represents God’s priority- “Spirit, Soul (comprised of mind, heart, and will) , and Body
1 Thessalonians 5:23: “Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you entirely; and may your spirit and soul and body be preserved complete, without blame at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
“Soul” is the part of us that contains our intellect and our personality. It includes our “mind”, it just more broadly expresses the uniqueness of an individual and includes emotions, will, and personality.
I believe that the order of things in the scripture is significant and deserves to be examined carefully and faithfully. Using 1 Thessalonians 5:23 as the primary reference, if we are to establish a position in agreement with the Scripture, we must make the development and nurture of the spirit at least as high a priority, if not a higher priority, than that of our mind/soul. and body. God created all three, but without a doubt, the spirit within us in the most important part and, along with the soul, is eternal. These bodies are not…….created from clay, returning to dust. But the eternal, glorified bodies we will receive someday will be.
As Christian writers, leaders, and teachers, I would encourage anyone writing about wellness and utilizing the triad description of the nature of humanity to order it rightly….according to God’s Word- spirit, soul (or mind), and body.