I’ve been thinking about my body a lot recently. I know that sounds weird – maybe even a bit psychotic – but give me a minute here.
I’ve been thinking about my body and the fact that I live in it. I know, this sounds even more like I need to go to the nut-house now…but think about it for a few minutes with me.
We have these bodies we’re given – we’re literally born and grow up into them – and we have to live in them. It’s not like we are given a choice about it. As one of my son’s teachers used to say, “you get what you get and you can’t throw a fit.”
As I’ve thought about this, it’s led me to thinking about how our life in our bodies connects with our life with God. I’ve been thinking about how our spiritual life is embodied – how our spirituality is lived in a body.
I believe that a good portion of Western Christianity has developed a fundamental divorce between body and spirit somewhere along the line. The easiest place to point a finger is the Enlightenment, but there are admittedly other sources.
Because of this, there has arisen a sort of neo-gnosticism within Christianity. The gnostics were the people the Apostle John was speaking against in his epistles. They claimed that Jesus didn’t really come in a body. I am seeing this particularly in evangelical Christianity, where people either devalue the body (asceticism) or exalt the body (hedonism).
But this is not what we find in the Scripture. Instead, Scripture points to a basic continuity between body and spirit. For example, the Apostle Paul tends to take the readers of his letter through a discussion of spiritual truths in the first half of his letters that leads into a discussion of practical living in our everyday bodies in the latter half of his letters.
Also, we see in the Gospels that when Jesus rose from the dead, He did so physically. He even went so far as to eat some fish with His disciples. He was alive in a resurrection body not as some disembodied spirit. Paul elaborates on this when talking about how we will experience resurrection bodies ourselves. He writes that just as Christ is the “first fruits” of the resurrection, so we will be raised anew with resurrection bodies when He returns (1 Corinthians 15:20).
Thus, if the body is important for spirituality, then:
- The way we steward our bodies and physical resources is spiritual (e.g., generosity versus hoarding, physical exercise)
- The food and drink we take in has spiritual meaning (e.g, communion, nutrition, Paul’s discussion of food sacrificed to idols in 1 Corinthians 10)
- The physical actions of worship and devotion are spiritual (e.g., raising hands, kneeling, fasting, the setting for worship)
- The physical needs of the poor and impoverished have spiritual meaning beyond just keeping someone alive to share the gospel with them
- We are not trying to simply save souls and get them to heaven, but equipping people to live physically to God’s glory once they begin to follow Jesus
Do you believe in the value and spiritual significance of your body?
Do our lives of faith reflect that bodily spiritual significance or a disembodied spiritualism?
How do you think we can live a life of worship of the true Creator God in our physical bodies?