When I read Nathan Foster’s Pedaling in God’s Presence in this month’s journal, I was immediately impressed by his hardiness in biking straight through Michigan’s long winters. In Holland our winter is much shorter and less harsh and, believe it or not, bike paths are even prioritized for snow removal over roads in an effort to keep the population biking when the weather is less than ideal. Even so, I tend to leave my bike in the shed when the cold wind blows and the snow falls. Kudos, Nathan, you are much hardier than I!
There is no other substance quite like food. We celebrate with food, console with it, and, in turn, we guilt, shame and punish with it. How we eat, and what we choose to eat, can either provide nutrition and healing or cause grave illnesses.
Easter has just passed and I am freshly reminded of the importance of the body for spiritual formation and the practice of the spiritual disciplines. Actually, it seems that one of the under appreciated messages of Easter itself is the importance of the body for the practice of following Jesus. Our bodies are so vital that Jesus’s body was raised from death to show us that not only does our spirit not die but our spirit enfleshed will quite likely rise again as well, made perfect but with some sign of the scars that we have taken on in this life.
“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.” (1 Corinthians 6:19)
If our bodies are the temples of the Holy Spirit, then shouldn’t we do all we can to keep those temples in good repair? Does constant junk food or a lack of exercise create a good space for the Holy Spirit to dwell in? Does gluttony, smoking, abuse of alcohol and drugs create a temple worthy of God? We are not our own (despite the mantra of many in this culture about what they can and cannot do with their bodies); we belong to God and therefore are held to a different standard and understanding of the purpose and goal of our lives.
During his passion, Jesus remained fully aware of what was going on around him and to him. He participated fully in his body, even as he hung on the cross. He refused the wine mixed with myrrh that might have given him some pain relief. His intent was to be fully aware and to participate in every aspect of his humanity.
“Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit?” (1 Cor. 6:19)
Paul is asking the question in an assumptive posture…hello people, didn’t you know this? Then why are you partaking in sexual immorality and giving your body away to unhealthy ends? “Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ himself? Then flee from such immorality!” (vs. 15,18)