Because of all He has done …

“And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all He has done for you.  Let them be a living and holy sacrifice — the kind He will find acceptable.  This is truly the way to worship Him.”  Romans 12:1 (NLT)

“Offering our bodies to God” is something we don’t talk much about.  We talk a lot about offering our hearts, or our souls, or even our minds.  But our bodies?  It is so foreign to our thinking that it even sounds funny.

But God wants it.  He wants all of us.

And just in case you might think that the word for “body” might, in its original language, mean something broader than our physical body — it doesn’t.  I checked.  The original word is soma, and it means, precisely in fact, the physical body, the flesh.  (In later years, it also took on the meaning of the body of Christ, but again, in the very physical sense of Jesus’ followers being the tangible extension of Jesus on earth.)

God wants you.  He wants your physical body — your flesh — too.  Will you give it to Him?  Will you make it holy and acceptable for Him?

I was reading in Jesus Calling the other day, and it said: “The free will I bestowed on you comes with awesome responsibility.  Each day presents you with choice after choice.  Many of these decisions you ignore and thus make by default.”  (Jesus Calling, September 18)  In other words, God allows me to make innumerable choices each day; many of those opportunities I am not recognizing as such and therefore am not making the choices I should.  I am giving away my choice to habit or thoughtlessness or other people (or worse).

And for so many of us, the body suffers as a result.  The choices we make (or don’t make) about what we are going to feed our bodies … the choices we make (or don’t make) about exercising and strengthening our bodies … the choices we make (or don’t make) about caring for and sanctifying our bodies.  The many choices we don’t make that make our bodies unhealthy, undignified and unglorified.  We, as a church, have forgotten to give our bodies to God.  We, ironically called the body of Christ, have forgotten to make our bodies holy and acceptable to Him.

“Every day presents you with choice after choice.”  So be careful then, how you live … making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil.  (Ephesians 5:15-16).

By the mercies of God, I urge you to offer your bodies to God …

This is your true and proper worship.

Advertisements

It All Starts Here

Your workmanship is marvelous — how well I know it!”       Psalm 139:14b (NLT)

If only.

If only we knew it so well, our world would be a different place.  For I believe Psalm 139 lies at the crux of our spiritual formation.  And until the church can get it right, we cannot be our biggest and brightest to the rest of the world.

Psalm 139 talks about how intricately and intimately God made each of us and knows each of us.  It speaks very practically about the love God has for us and how that love has been expressed in the wonderful creations that we are.  “You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body and knit me together in my mother’s womb.  Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex — how well I know it!” (Ps. 139:13-14). And this isn’t the only place God expresses this sentiment.  One of my favorites is Ephesians 2:10, where we are called God’s workmanship, God’s masterpiece, God’s poiema — God’s poem.

But we don’t know it.  By and large, we don’t know that at our core.  Because if we did, we would value ourselves differently.  And if we valued ourselves differently, we would interact with ourselves differently.  If I value the masterpiece that God made in me, I will honor it and care for it and learn to love it — for no other reason that because God made it for me and gave it to me, and it is wonderfully made.  And if you believed it, you might interact with yourself differently too.

I’m not talking about arrogance or self-love in that way.  (Arrogance, by the way, is often a cover-up for insecurity, anyway.)  I’m talking about a deep knowing that God created me carefully and thoughtfully, and that God loves me more than I can ever comprehend.

And once I know these truths — that God made me a wonderfully complex masterpiece — then I can start seeing and knowing you as a wonderfully complex masterpiece … and I start interacting with you with more honor and dignity.  And then the church — oh what a beauty the church would be!

But it all starts here.  How well do you know the wonder of God’s workmanship?

How much do you really believe that God loves you?  How much do you really believe that you are God’s poem?  Your actions toward yourself and towards others reveal the answer.

The Word Became Flesh

“The Word became flesh and made His dwelling among us.” John 1:14a (NIV)

Have you ever stopped to ponder that statement?  Of course, it’s a truth that changed the world and all of history … but it is also a truth that should also change the way we live and the way we understand and interact with our bodies.

Jesus became flesh and indwelt a human body.  This means that God found the human body something worthy enough for the Living God of Universe to indwell.

And that’s totally the opposite of what I’ve learned about the body from church (meaning the church at large, not any particular church).  My experience has been that the church has taught us that the body can’t be trusted.  Through its silence on the subject and even through its words, the church has taught that the body is bad.  In fact, the only teachings I have heard from the church about the body is either (1) a whole bunch of “don’ts,” and/or (2) that the body is flesh … and flesh is bad.

Really!?

This isn’t just semantics.  God created the human body, and He called very good.  In fact, He made us in His image!  (See Genesis 1:27-31).  Can we do bad things with our bodies?  Of course!  (Just as we can do bad things with our minds and our souls). Does that make the body inherently bad?  No.  No it doesn’t.

Remember, the Word became flesh.

How many sermons have you heard that tell you what you should do with the body God gave you (instead of what you shouldn’t do)?  I’m not sure I have heard any.  And we all learn better through encouragement and training toward how we should behave and act, as opposed to constant nagging about how we shouldn’t.

I’m just saying.  The Word became flesh.  The Living God indwelt a human body that He made and found worthy.  Shouldn’t you view it similarly?

Flushing

“And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do ….”  Hebrews 10:35a (NLT)

Once a week, I attend a Bikram yoga class — you know, the hot one where you sweat a lot.  A LOT.  Other good things happen there too, like stretching and balance work, lots of focus and concentration.  It’s been a really good practice for me, and once a week has been a good rhythm for me.  Each time I go, I focus on God (the place where I attend seems to have divorced the practice from its eastern spiritual roots), I work hard, and I sweat a lot.  And when I leave (after a shower, of course), I feel renewed — purged of toxins and old junk and refilled and with fresh cleanness.  It’s like my system has been flushed, and I’m ready for a restart.

It’s just like what the writer of Hebrews meant in his encouragement not to “neglect our meeting together.”  Something powerful happens when the church gathers, and it’s something we need to do an a regular basis.  I believe the gathering of God’s people is like a flushing.  It helps us get rid of our toxins and fills us with the power and encouragement to live renewed lives.  Acts 2:42 states that when the early church gathered, they “devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, sharing in the Lord’s Supper and prayer.”  They confessed their sins to one another and partook of the communion elements.  They got out of their daily life routines, and met to encourage each other with Scripture and prayer.  Out with the things of the world; in with the things of God.  In a word, they flushed. They flushed regularly.

So let us not neglect our meeting together.  Whether it’s a big church, small church or house gathering of faithful followers of Christ, let’s not neglect the meeting together.  We need each other, and we all need a regular flushing!