The Word Became Flesh 2

“And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory — glory as of the only begotten from the Father …”  John 1:14 (NASB) 

In this season, I have been thinking a lot about the birth of Jesus. The manifestation of God on earth. The eternal Word being made flesh.

In the birth of Jesus, God Almighty came to dwell in a human body.

Then I fast forward the story in my mind to the part where Jesus paid the price for our sins in His body. Where His body was whipped and beaten and crucified to atone for our transgressions.  It was Jesus’ earthly body that was abused, sacrificed and killed for us.

Then I fast forward to the part of the story when Jesus was resurrected. And I notice that His body — His dead body — disappeared (it was no longer in the tomb) … And Jesus appeared in a different, resurrected body.

Was the old body was gone?  Was it absorbed into the resurrected body?  Was it fodder for His resurrected body, but just transformed?   Maybe.  I don’t know.  (But I do know that Jesus showed Thomas the nail-holes that remained in the hands of His resurrected body.)

This is a mystery for another day.  But here’s what it all tells me: that our bodies matters to God.

If Jesus is our example, His story shows us just how much our bodies matter to God.  Jesus was God in a body; Jesus’ body bore the penalty for our sins; Jesus’ body was resurrected and transformed.

If Jesus is our example, His story shows us how much our earthly bodies can be used to redeem & transform lives and bring unimaginable glory to God. If Jesus is our example, then His story shows us how much our bodies are part of our stories … and that God longs to use them for His glory and purposes.

May we accept and embrace that reality in 2018!

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Abundance

I have come so that they may have life, and have it abundantly.” John 10:10b (NET)

(Dedicated to Kim)

I spent the first part of the Christmas holiday sick. Just a winter cold, but still sick. And I struggled to get past the sickness of my body to let my mind and spirit relish in the joy of Christmas, As I struggled, I was reminded of what another Christian theologian once wrote: “Sickness makes it impossible to avoid the reality of our bodies. When I am sick, I am not a mind (or soul) with a suffering body; I am the suffering body.”

And then I learned that my dear friend Kim is battling breast cancer. As I listened to Kim and her process, I was again clearly reminded that God made us as integrated wholes. Kim’s battle is much more than a physical battle in her body; it is a battle in her body, mind and spirit. It is a battle that involves all of her.

God Himself is triune — three parts in one indivisible whole. And He made us in His image. Yet many Christians have come to believe that we have bodies … not that we are, at least in part, bodies. But there are times, like when we are sick, when we are reminded that we are integrated bodies. God made us that way. The health of one aspect of myself affects the other aspects of myself. The health of my body affects my mind and spirit. The health of my mind affects my body and spirit (as seen, for example, in people with brain damage.). And the health of my spirit affects my mind and body. An integrated whole.

In the miracle of Christmas, Jesus came to give us life in all of its abundance. And, given the way God made us, I firmly believe that abundant life has to include all aspects of how God made us. Abundant mind, body and spirit.

So as I prepare to have my friend Kim over for dinner tonight, I am hoping to encourage and lift her up in mind and spirit … knowing and trusting that the health of her mind and spirit will help to foster abundance in her body.

And as I prepare for a new year, I ponder anew where God wants to see greater abundance in me.

The Body

“For we know that … when we die and leave this earthly body, we will have … an eternal body made for us by God Himself …. [W]e will put on heavenly bodies; we will not be spirits without bodies.” 2 Corinthians 5:1-3 (NLT)

Have you ever wondered if the body is important to God? Have you ever searched the Bible to see if the body mattered to God?

While I haven’t yet made an exhaustive search of the Scriptures on this matter, here are a few clues I have found along the way:

– God “formed a man’s body from the dust of the ground and breathed into it the breath of life” (Genesis 2:7), and God made woman out of Adam’s own body (Genesis 2:22). God Himself fashioned the human body.  He made it in His own image (Genesis 1:27) and breathed His own breath into it. He also made male and female interconnected in numerous ways.  Both God’s attention to detail and His desire to fashion us in His own image would indicate great passion and care.

– When we die, we are given a new body; we are not simply spirit form in the afterlife, but with a new body.  (See also 1 Corinthians 15:40, 54; Romans 8:23.)  To me, this indicates the importance of a body from God’s perspective. I cannot fully grasp His rationale, but the body must be important. If our spirit/soul was all that mattered to God, why wouldn’t we be purely spirit/soul in the afterlife? Instead, God grants us a new body.

– Followers of Jesus are called the “body of Christ” (see e.g., 1 Corinthians 12:12-31, Romans 12:4-5, Ephesians 2:16, etc.). While most consider this to be a metaphor, why would God choose this particular metaphor? God surely wouldn’t have picked this metaphor if the body was insignificant and didn’t matter to Him!

– Scripture says that a believer’s body is “actually part of Christ” and “the temple of the Holy Spirit” (1 Corinthians 6:15, 19). Scripture tells us to honor God with our body (1 Corinthians 6:20). Enough said?

Each of these clues, to me, reveal that the body God made for us is important.  It matters to God. Yes, they body is passing away, but for whatever reasons, it remains important to Him.

Is it important to you?

Death

“Therefore, strengthen your listless hands and your weak knees, and make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be put out of joint but be healed.” Hebrews 12:12-13 (NET)

January has brought much death to our family circle.  Thus far, we have lost two people close to us and have two more in the hospital. January has highlighted the frailty and fragility of the human body and the truth that it will, one day, give out on us. In fact, each of the illnesses and deaths we have encountered have been, ultimately, the result of the body ceasing to function properly and giving out.

Which leaves me again to wonder why, as Christians, we don’t hear more about taking care of this amazing body God has gifted to us!? We hear a lot about stewarding our money and our time and our talents … but what about stewarding this gift of the body? If the impact we can have for our Lord in this dark world is limited by how long our bodies hold up, then why don’t we cherish it and care for it and treat it with love and respect?

In Hebrews (above), the writer was speaking in metaphorical terms.  He was encouraging us to keep moving, accepting the Lord’s discipline of us, and using it to make us better and stronger for Him.  But I believe that taking care of our physical bodies and strengthening our them can have both short- and long-term value for the kingdom. How?  In the short-term, it is an act of worship. It is stewarding and caring for one of the most amazing things He has entrusted to us.  In the long-term, it can improve and lengthen the time we have in this world to shine for Jesus.

Yes, our bodies are temporal. But goodness, so is our money, our time and our talents … & we steward those, don’t we? Your body is here for your entire journey, so strengthen the things that remain so that it may not be put out of joint, but rather healed and used by our Lord.