The Redemption of the Body

In the wake of natural disasters, we easily relate to Paul’s words of a groaning creation (Romans 8), and the decaying of our bodies proves that a final, eternal redemption is a necessary reality of the future. Since salvation affects not only our hearts and souls, but also our bodies, does it follow that our bodies enter into the regeneration process of sanctification?

In one sense, the body bears the brunt of the broken world, and all bodies eventually yield to death. While the spirit may grow stronger and stronger, the aging process spirals the body from one degree of weakness to another.

But in another sense, the body bears witness to a thriving spirit. A person’s mental commitment to health can pull a waning body from illness. A hopeful heart can fight off illness. God has created an intricate relationship between body, soul, and spirit.

Would it not follow that just as we guard our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus, we should also guard our bodies in Christ Jesus? After all, bodies are important to the Lords–so much so that he’s promised us a new resurrection body after our old body has passed from this life.

We speak often of the devil’s schemes, his flaming arrows against hearts and minds. But what about the attacks against our bodies? I don’t mean the physical persecution to which many Christians face. I refer to the more subtle attack of our culture on the meaning of beauty. And our bodies bear the impact of the entrapment of our minds to false beauty-ology. Unnecessary diets or cosmetic surgeries. Rigid exercise programs that stretch beyond health to addiction. Inappropriate investments of time and money in attempt to chase a particular standard of beauty. Crazy obsession with celebrities who possess said standard of beauty. Worry–lots and lots of worry over our imperfect shapes, colors, sizes, etc.

The freedom that Christ brings to our hearts should extend to our bodies.

Every choice we make regarding our bodies should reflect the transformations taking place in our hearts. As my heart and mind becomes more like Christ, and the fruit of the Spirit intensifies within me, I should treat my body with more of that fruit. More love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness, and self-control.

Someday we’ll have to give an account, not just for our words, but also for the things we’ve done to and with our bodies. Christ is coming back someday, and I want to be completely ready: body, soul, and spirit.

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This is My Body, Given for You

“And he took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, ‘This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me.’ In the same way, after the supper he took the cup, saying, ‘This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you.’” Luke 22:19-20

The miracle of salvation required the breaking of Jesus’s body, the pouring of his blood. The sufferings of Christ were not confined to agony of soul or distress of heart. His hands were nailed. His side was pierced. The act of the cross, and our call to remember it through the celebration of the Lord’s Supper, crushes the myth that our bodies are spiritually unimportant, mere second-class compared to hearts and spirits. Jesus accomplished something with the cross and resurrection that can only be properly categorized as complete triumph. Not only did he cut off the consequences of sin from any who choose to believe in him, but his physical body rose from the dead and became new.

He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; by his wounds you have been healed.” I Peter 2:24

So how can we act like what we do with our bodies doesn’t matter? How can we manipulate, morph, or mistreat our bodies? Or allow others to do so to themselves?

Next time we sit at the Lord’s Supper, let us marvel at the sacredness of Christ’s body. Let us confess not only the sins of our hearts, but also the sins of our bodies. And let us commit ourselves to him afresh. All of who we are: heart, mind, spirit, and body.

Your Body Matters

God’s image within mankind supplies instantaneous value to each and every person—bodies and all. And for that reason, it’s time to get radical about how we view and treat our bodies.

The early church’s perspective on the body radically deviated from Greco-Roman culture . On one side, Gnosticism considered matter to be inherently evil, and did not believe Christ was truly incarnate or that there would be a resurrection of the body. On the other side, secular society had created a philosophical argument based on Platonic ideas that allowed for and encourage libertine living: prostitution, alcoholism, and gluttony. Whatever felt good was acceptable. But neither asceticism or libertarianism properly represents God’s view of the body, and Paul understood this, grounding the body’s identity in Christ, “Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body.”

Today, cultural voices swarm around us: Do what you want with your body; it’s your choice, regardless of how that choice affects others. Change it. Sculpt it. Decorate it. Starve it. Work it out. If you’d like to take into consideration other’s thoughts or feelings — well — bonus points for you. You’re a good humanitarian. But when it comes down to it, your comfort and happiness is what’s most important.

How radical Paul’s imperative: Honor God with your body. Your body matters. Period. Because it — not just your soul — was bought with a price. Consequently, it’s not what the body looks like, but what it does (what we do with it), that matters. And when you come to Christ, you submit not just your heart and soul to him, but your body, making what you do with your body not a free-for-all choice. So guard your body like you do your soul. Our bodies are not plastic to be manipulated or a pleasure-machine to be operated.

Let us present our bodies as living sacrifices, wholly and acceptable to God, for this is our spiritual act of worship. Yes, our bodies — all of who we are — can worship him.

A Theology of the Body

Friends, it’s time to be radical about how we think about our bodies. Scripturally radical, and in a pleasant salt-to-the-world way, of course. For that reason, I’ll be looking at a theology of the body this month. Much hype has arisen lately about beauty. Almost daily it seems friends are posting on Facebook articles and discussions concerning what true beauty is. Christians are engaging in theological conversations about what the redeemed definition of beauty is and how the Christian is supposed to model this biblical beauty. Well and great, but a theology of beauty starts with an understanding of the body, and an understanding of the body flows from a proper estimation of the image of God within mankind.

God chose to encase his image within the shell of a human body. In the Ancient Near East, an image was understood to carry the expression of a deity. An image was not the same as the deity, but an image could be used by the deity to achieve divine work. Thus, as image-bearers, mankind became God’s ambassadors, his kingly rulers of earth. The tools of conscience, self-awareness, creativity, and wisdom and discernment were given to mankind for God’s accomplishing his work through us. But that work—the unfolding of redemption’s story from Genesis through today and beyond—is done by people with living, breathing bodies, who fulfill the Great Commission by loving the Lord with all their heart, soul, mind, and strength (in other words, bodies).

So we value our bodies, not because of their abilities to give us pleasure, but because they encase God’s image and allow us to work for his kingdom. We value our bodies because they were created by God, not by accident, but on purpose. We value our bodies because Jesus took on a body to carry out the wildest redemption plan the earth has ever seen.