From Pauses for Pentecost
Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit,
who is in you, whom you have received from God?
(1 Corinthians 6:19)
How do you feel about your body? Quite rarely do we meet persons who are totally comfortable with their bodies. Provocative images that remind us we live in a culture that worships a youthful body and physical attractiveness bombard us each day. Not surprisingly, we struggle with any sign of bodily decay that reminds us we are getting older. We may even end up living in fear of our bodies and what they may do to us. Sadly, there is sometimes a tendency in Christian circles to view the body as an enemy of the spiritual life. What are your thoughts regarding the role of your body in your journey with God?
Today the apostle Paul invites us to view our bodies from a different perspective. He asks us to see them as temples of the Holy Spirit. In Jewish thought the Temple represents that sacred place where Heaven and Earth come together, where the Holy One is present, and where we offer ourselves to God. This is the image Paul asks his friends in the Corinthian church to consider when thinking about their bodies. We can be reasonably sure that they had difficulty imagining their bodies in this light. If we are honest with ourselves, we don’t do much better. Few of us live with the constant awareness that we should treasure our bodies as the places where God wants to take up residence.
But we can learn to think differently about our present bodies. There are a number of stepping stones in this learning process. Dallas Willard suggests we begin by surrendering our bodies to God. What we want is that God should fill our bodies even more fully with the divine Presence. Next, we can consider how we abuse our bodies, especially through overwork and substance abuse, and take steps toward practicing Sabbath rest. Getting enough sleep is a good start. Lastly, because God’s Spirit inhabits our bodies, we can honor God with them as we regularly dedicate each part to God’s service where we are. Easter people know that their bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit!
Spend some time expressing care for your body. Whatever you may do, whether it is taking a leisurely bath, lying down to rest, or going for a walk around the block, give thanks to God that your body is a temple of God’s Spirit.