Total Rehab [ your ischus - Feature Image
Posted On 02/05/2016

Total Rehab [ your ischus

it’s all Greek to me

Raise your hand if you’re going to be glad when Greek words stop showing up in the sermon titles online! 🙂  While I can’t guarantee it won’t ever happen again, this should be the last time (for at least another week).  This week we close the Total Rehab series with a dynamic guest speaker — Adam Lockhart, church planter – The Pursuit church, Riverview.   And finish with the final of the four parts of yourself Jesus mentions in repeating the words of the central Jewish prayer, the Shema … your ischus (IS-KHOOS).  The word translated in English means strength, power, might, force and ability.  Contrary to the first three we considered (heart, soul and mind), ischus is something we traditionally refer to, or speak of, as being an external thing.  When you speak of your heart, soul and mind, these are all parts of you which are unseen.  If you’re asked about your strength, don’t you instinctively whip out “the guns?!”  Don’t you bend into a crouched position, flex profusely and let out a primal scream?!  Did I just write that out loud?!
Our ischus engages the physical part of us, and that part matters too, right?  Strength is not always defined as physical (we refer to someone’s will – say, in fighting a disease – as strong, or their character as strong), but for the most part, that’s how we think of it.  When we ask for prayer, don’t most requests center on the physical?  When we talk or think about getting healthy, don’t we always and almost exclusively go to the physical?

are we supposed to hug trees?

We know by now that God defines total health far differently than we do.  It’s an all-in thing.  It’s all four parts of you functioning as He designed and intended them to.  So let’s see what He says about your ischus.

Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”
Genesis 1:26-28 (ESV)

The Creator put the created in charge of creation.  God put us in charge of caring for His creation … and we are part of that creation.  He put us in charge of caring for us.  Inherent in this passage are two mandates, commonly referred to as spiritual and cultural.  When God says, “Be fruitful and multiply,” He was telling Adam and Eve (and all who followed) to reproduce and fill the earth.  When Jesus came and said the same, He was instructing the disciples (and those who followed them) to make disciples and carry the gospel to the ends of the earth.  This is our spiritual mandate.  Our cultural mandate is the “subdue” part, the part which stewards God’s creation and cares for it well.  We may not hug trees, but we are to live in this world in a way that does not abuse and misuse for our own pleasure.
So, why does it even matter?  Isn’t all of this going to be destroyed and made new when Jesus comes back?  That might be a “logical” conclusion, but it isn’t truth.  God says nothing resembling that in scripture.  We are to be good stewards.  Good stewards of our heart, soul, mind and strength, and good stewards of the created world.

Caesar’s cabbage

Jesus encountered a crafty challenge to this idea of stewarding the physical when He was asked about paying taxes.  We have responsibilities living in this world.  And while they do not trump our allegiance to God, our obedience should not be assumed to be a choice between the two.  Catch what Jesus does…

So they watched him and sent spies, who pretended to be sincere, that they might catch him in something he said, so as to deliver him up to the authority and jurisdiction of the governor. So they asked him, “Teacher, we know that you speak and teach rightly, and show no partiality, but truly teach the way of God. Is it lawful for us to give tribute to Caesar, or not?” But he perceived their craftiness, and said to them, “Show me a denarius. Whose likeness and inscription does it have?” They said, “Caesar’s.” He said to them, “Then render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” And they were not able in the presence of the people to catch him in what he said, but marveling at his answer they became silent.
Luke 20:20-26 (ESV)

There were two words I bolded in Jesus’ response.  Those words would have had special meaning to the ancient’s in hearing Jesus say them.  They are associated with the Shema.  As continuing instructions after the Shema is spoken, the hearer was encouraged to “bind them as a sign on your hand and they shall be as frontals on your forehead. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.” (Deuteronomy 6:8-9)  The word for “write” has also been translated as “inscribe.” An inscription or likeness meant something.  Jesus is saying, give the world back what belongs to it, what bears its image.  But what belongs to God — what (who) has His image inscribed on it — that belongs to Him; give that (yourself) back to Him.  And what belongs to God is our whole self … our heart, soul, mind and strength.


There’s a single word at the end of the definition of ischus above which sort of dangles alone.  Strength, power, might, force … those things all go together really well.  Then the Sesame Street song starts in my head when I get to the last word.  “One of these things is not like the other…”  Yeah!  Get that song out of your head the rest of the day!  What do I do with the ischus that God has given me.  What is the sweat of my stewardship?  Am I proving myself able in the good works he authored for me before the world began? (Ephesians 2:10)  When we’re not being good stewards of our physical selves, how eager are we to go and love others as Jesus commanded us to?  But when we are being obedient to Jesus’ words in Mark 12:30, when we are loving God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength, we are able to continue on and do the work of the second greatest commandment — the commandment in the very next verse in Mark 12 — love your neighbor as yourself.  
So, here it is.  What is total health?  Total health as God defines it?  Love God with all your heart (kardia), soul (psuché), mind (dianoia) and strength (ischus).

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