Summary: This sermon witnesses to the truth that each of us has an immortal soul, speaks to the importance of recognizing that we have an immortal soul, and asks what life would be like if humanity had no soul.
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Genesis 1:26-27 tells us that we are created in God’s image. By this we mean that we are created with a soul in which God communes with us. The sorry state of sinfulness into which humanity has fallen threatens to defy that fact. Indeed, the beautiful soul, the image of God within is in need of redemptive restoration. And it is being restored in a myriad ways each day throughout the world but the redemptive presence of Jesus Christ.
I remember seeing a video clip of Pope John Paul II on a news program quite a few years ago. It must have been sometime around 2003. He was quite advanced in years, moving slowly at that time because of his age. And for an instant, just a moment, something quite wonderful occurred and I will never forget witnessing it even though it was for just a brief moment. That moment touched me so very deeply. He was passing through the crowd and came very near two young women, probably tourists judging from their dress. I do not know what he said to them, but there was a brief personal exchange. And I shall never forget something so beautiful that it touched me deeply and has remained crystal clear in my memory, the amazing change in the appearance of the two young women’s faces. It was almost like a transfiguration. What I saw in their faces was more than a sense of awe at finding themselves face-to-face with the leader of their church. It was an expression of awe that transcended the physical. The only way that I can explain it is that what they were experiencing, I believe, was the realization that they were in fact children of God. They were seeing their soul, if for only a moment. They were seeing themselves as Christ saw them—holy, cleansed, without blemish, blameless, radiant. This was a miracle. And, may God be praised, such miracles happen every day because humans have a soul created in the image of God, a soul capable of responding to the divine light, a soul capable of communing with God. When this fact is realized, even if momentary, it is one of the most beautiful things in the universe to witness. I believe that this religious leader was mirroring the image of the divine that is within us, and even if forgotten, lies within us all.
In this secular world today the inner light has been all but extinguished. The extent of brutality of every kind has all but dehumanized society. In this darkening world, there are persons who are longing to be healed, longing for significance, longing for the image of God within them to be affirmed. People everywhere are desperately asking, whether consciously or not, “Was I really created in the image of God? Is my soul valued by my Creator? Am I loved by God?
We no longer live in a Christian culture. Today, religion is thought of as an illusion, and Christianity as an oppressive rather than liberating influence in people’s lives. Even among those folk who are not hostile to Christianity, and, even among those persons who regularly participate in Christian worship, there are many who consider Christian worship to be uplifting in the same way a work of art, an inspiring novel, a great play or movie can be uplifting, but just “make believe”. And they just play at it as if it were real to them.
Many persons become inured to the existential question, “Who am I, and why am I here?” Most of us put this question out of our mind, turning instead to false Gods and distractions to fill the void in our soul. But for many, when the void and the pain become too great and the illusions are broken down, life becomes meaningless, and the question breaks with full force into consciousness: “Do I have a soul, am I more than a bit of dust shaped in this form by chance? Is my life in any way significant?”
The decline of Christianity is not because humankind has outgrown it. The real problem is that truth is being systematically expunged from the consciousness of entire nations, and indeed, from the world as a whole. Satan is doing his very best to extinguish the light of Christ through deception, and as result, vast multitudes of people living today do not know the answer to that question.
Does man really have an eternal soul? Many, perhaps the majority of philosophers and social scientists and perhaps even some theologians today, would say, “No”. Others might say, “Maybe not”. And secular society as a whole seemingly could care less one way or the other. Not having been taught otherwise, the vast majority of persons unconsciously go through life thinking, behaving, acting, living as if there is no such thing as an eternal soul, yet alone a soul created in the very image of God.