Tuesday, March 8, 2011

The Eternal Worth of a Soul

We were walking in down the streets of DC on an excursion day after a conference when it hit me.

It wasn't the first time I've considered it--but maybe the first time I ever mentioned it to my wife and as I shared the thought out loud the truth of it sunk deeper--even a bit surprising. My own voice convicting my calloused heart.

It happened as we were passing a homeless man who was sunken over--asleep in the middle of the day. I wish I could describe him but I don't remember details. I just remember the contrast of his sleeping sadness amidst the busyness of the streets. A breathing still frame lifted from a feature film.

I was reminded of the words of Christ, "For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul? (Matt. 16:26)."

Though we just spent hours looking at priceless works of art in the Smithsonian American Art Museum--and peeked at the 112 carat Hope Diamond--this man surpasses them all.

In fact--Jesus says take all that the world considers valuable--and throw in the world, the stars, the billions of galaxies, and all the unexplored treasures of the known creation and they don't hold up to this man sleeping on the sidewalk next to the trash.

Note the words, "the whole world" and "what shall a man give...?"

Answer? Nothing.


My best answer that convicted me even as I shared with my wife is that in the same way we place value on duration and uniqueness--Jesus places value on the duration of and uniqueness of a created soul.

The planets will wear out. The farthest star that burns light-years away will eventually burn out. The Hope Diamond will eventually turn to ash. But when the farthest light goes out--the nameless man's soul will keep going--eternal as ever. It will never cease to exist.

Our souls are eternal. Priceless. Meaningful. Significant. Never to go out once breathed into creation. This is true for the most unimpressive life--the most difficult person--the smelliest homeless man. This is true for you and me.

If we truly understood that--we would likely step out of the museums and stare at the man. We would muse over the significance of his soul--the everlasting nature of a something in the middle of everything that won't last a day in forever.

How much is the man worth who has trash blowing on him?