What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, yet forfeit his soul? Or what can a man give in exchange for his soul? – Mark 8:37 (NIV)
Long before the current controversy over Obamacare raged, there was another controversial federal government program enacted designed to provide insurance to a portion of the US citizenry. Born in the Great Depression, the Social Security Act was enacted on August 14, 1935. The Act was originally designed to provide benefits to the elderly, unemployed, widows and fatherless children. There was initial controversy around the legislation when proposed. Opponents argued that levying additional taxes on employers would contribute to job loss. Proponents argued the Act would increase jobs by encouraging older workers to retire.
The Social Security Act has been amended numerous times over the years broadening the scope of those receiving benefits. In 2013 total Social Security expenditures accounted for 8.4% of GNP and 37% of federal government expenditures. With consuming such a large portion of the federal budget, politicians of both parties have questioned the long term sustainability of the Social Security program and talk of the need of sweeping reform. Yet neither party has been able to muster the political will to do so, knowing that such reform is likely to be controversial and cost them votes.
Long before FDR ushered in Social Security, the God of the universe established soul-cial security. The term soul is used in a variety of context both inside and outside of scripture. For our purposes, I use the term to describe the incorporeal (without physical body) and immortal essence of a person. I like how one writer describes the function of the soul, “The soul perceives, thinks, feels, and makes decisions and choices. In man, the soul can also cause sin. God gave man the choice to choose sin or righteousness, to worship himself or God.” We see throughout scripture, particularly in the Psalms, the soul engaged in worship to God. Bless the LORD, O my soul: and all that is within me, bless his holy name. Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits. Psalm 103:1-2.
Not to be loss is the phrase is the “immortal essence of a person.” The soul will live forever, either in eternal communion with or eternal separation from God. After death, the body will be inanimate and will be separated from the soul. The body will be reunited with the soul at the final resurrection described in 1 Thessalonians 4:16, For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. Not so with the soul. For the believer the soul will never be separated from God. The Apostle Paul reminds us in 2 Corinthians 5:8 if we are absent from the body, we will be present with the Lord.
The soul is our most prized possession and it is to be esteemed more highly than any earthly wealth or gain. Jesus tells his disciples in Mark 8:37 that even if they were to accrue all the world’s riches, it would not be enough to ransom their souls. Only God himself could provide the ransom for the security of our souls through the death and resurrection of his son, Jesus Christ. However, like Social Security, we must apply for the benefits. We do not automatically receive Social Security benefits upon reaching age 65. We must apply. We apply for God’s soul-cial security by believing in and placing our trust in the Lord Jesus Christ.
There has been much speculation over the solvency of the Social Security trust fund and whether it will have sufficient assets to pay out the benefits owed. We have no such worries with God’s soul-cial security trust fund, for it not funded by US treasury securities but rather by the precious blood of the Lamb. As singer and songwriter Andrae Crouch so aptly penned:
The blood that Jesus shed for me,
way back on Calvary;
the blood that gives me strength
from day to day,
it will never lose its power.