Sunday, 2 November 2008

Bodily discipleship

In many ways our view of the body as Christians tends towards being pretty secular. There is almost a separation between the body and God. It belongs to a separate realm from our 'spiritual lives'. We can almost feel that our bodies have little to do with our relationship with God, which belongs to invisible 'spiritual' things. So, for example, to name three possible secularizing beliefs about our bodies....

1. we are going to 'heaven' where our spirits will get released from this mortal body.

2. what we do with our body is unimportant when it comes to prayer or worship.

3. our body is spiritually important only when we commit gross sin with it

But, take for example, 1 Cor 6:12f. Here we get a very strong passage on the value of the body and the need to disciple our bodies - as we would our hearts, minds etc. From Paul we learn in this passage that:

1. The Lord is for the body (isn't that amazing!)
2. The body is the dwelling place of the Spirit and Christ.
3. The body will be raised from the dead (not be left behind in a spiritualized heaven)
4. The body is to be used for the glory of God (now that is big!).

There's lots here, but taking simply the last point I'm forced to see that how I use my body is a vital part of discipleship. This is not simply in terms of the avoidance of gross sin but in terms of glorifying God with my body. It's a striking question to ask myself: how can I glorify God with my body today? What things can I do in my body to honour God? So quickly, we think of abstinence and saying 'no' to things, but that reduces glorifying God to 'sin-avoidance'. Surely, much more is needed here. It means a positive, active honouring of God with my body. What does it mean to be a disciple in my body?