In our March/April 2014 issue, we published Part 1 The Body, God’s Masterpiece

A college degree $60,000. A Michael Kors bag $400. Gel nails $50.  A Dolce & Gabbana suit $2,195. Your body?  

My mother was a seamstress who made all of my and my sisters’ Sunday dresses growing up. I was always conscious of my body as she took my measurements for the next Sunday-dress I would proudly wear. But at thirteen, I didn’t feel proud of my body; rather I was ashamed of the physical changes that were taking place. This feeling must have followed me well into adulthood because by that time I was glad to trade my physique for a stronger, athletic-looking one.

As I began to compete competitively in bodybuilding, I began to realize that I could no longer devalue my body and value my soul. How could I be ashamed of my body while loving my soul? How could I hate my body and cherish my soul? On one level, the answer to these questions was important to giving me the courage to compete on stage before an audience. On another level, the answer became more significant to finding peace within my soul. Paul’s words resonated deep inside me: I was bought with a price, and with my body I was to glorify God (I Corinthians 6:20).

The Body — Physical and Spiritual

We live in a culture which views sex as the natural response to our sexual urges.  The fact is, although the body is physical, it is also spiritual because within us dwells the Holy Spirit. His indwelling makes our body sacred space.  The physical and the spiritual are, indeed, inseparable; and only in death do they separate. Sexual intercourse is the greatest example of this unity.

16-20 There’s more to sex than mere skin on skin. Sex is as much spiritual mystery as physical fact. As written in Scripture, “The two become one.” Since we want to become spiritually one with the Master, we must not pursue the kind of sex that avoids commitment and intimacy, leaving us more lonely than ever—the kind of sex that can never “become one.” There is a sense in which sexual sins are different from all others. In sexual sin we violate the sacredness of our own bodies, these bodies that were made for God-given and God-modeled love, for “becoming one” with another. Or didn’t you realize that your body is a sacred place, the place of the Holy Spirit? Don’t you see that you can’t live however you please, squandering what God paid such a high price for? The physical part of you is not some piece of property belonging to the spiritual part of you. God owns the whole works. So let people see God in and through your body. (I Corinthians 6:16-20 The Message)

Our entire body belongs to God. We are embodiments of God’s glory: “Bring all who claim me as their God, for I have made them for my glory. It was I who created them “(Isaiah 43:7 NLT).  Hence, the value and the purpose of the body cannot be defined outside its spiritual context. As believers our sexual appetite is always to be satisfied in the manner that honors God. The sexual union that honors God takes place within the institution of marriage between a male and female who together reflect the image of God. This union is characterized by love—unselfish giving of oneself—and a sense of fulfillment. Unhealthy bonds, on the other hand, leave us feeling unfilled, empty, lonely, ashamed, angry, and/or confused. The sexual union that honors God is also a model of the oneness and intimacy we share with God when He abides in us and we abide in Him. He is the Lover who gives everything to express his Love to His beloved.

 

Embodiments of God’s Glory

We are created to show off God. We are stewards, co-creators and co-laborers within God’s creation. What we do with our bodies is of concern to the Holy Spirit. What we think about the body, how we treat it, take care of it, are all important to Him. The following three principles are important to note so that we can bring glory to God in our body:

(i)  Our bodies do not belong to us. We need to grow with this awareness of the presence and the governance of the Holy Spirit within us. We have no right to participate in any sexual relations outside of marriage. To do so is to dishonor God and the body. To see or treat the body as a sex object is to violate its sanctity. To express hatred toward the body by over-or under-eating, smoking, or any form of abuse is to offend the Holy Spirit. To destroy the body is reprehensible (I Corinthians 3:17). 

 

(ii) We have free choice. We all have the power to shape our own destiny by the choices we make. We are created to let our light shine by doing good works in order to bring God glory (Matthew 5:16; Ephesians 2:10). But it is through our ability to choose to discipline ourselves physically, mentally and spiritually that we become fit to display God’s glory. Yes, discipline is not supposed to be fun or easy. As a personal trainer, it is my job to make the workouts manageable for my clients but never fun and easy. All athletes know results do not come easy.

 

(iii) We are wired for intimacy with God. Oftentimes, we look for love in all the wrong places. We turn to food, alcohol, sex, drugs, people, or work, to name a few places. The mistake we make is in attempting to satisfy a craving of our entire being with things that are designed to satisfy the body only. We—our entire being—crave and hunger for the presence of God:

“God! My God! It’s you—I search for you! My whole being thirsts for you! My body desires you in a dry and tired land, no water anywhere” (Psalm 63:1 CEB).

[Bold emphases are mine.]

The bottom line is that our bodies — manifestations of our being — were made to worship God, to adore Him—to love Him with all our heart, soul, strength and mind. Wholly we give ourselves to Him because wholly He gave himself for us. His love for us required Him to accept an excruciating, slow death. Having the ability to call for the help of angels, He exercised His free will and chose instead to suffer an anguish so great for our sake.

Loving One’s Body

Learning to love one’s body wholly, therefore, is part of the healing of humanity’s brokenness. Christ accepts us wholly, so we, too, should accept ourselves. We all have to be taught to love our bodies healthily. Yet we know more than ever that it is challenging to love our bodies in a world of Slim Fast and Jenny Craig diets, pencil-thin celebrities, plastic surgeries and liposuctions. We have exercise gadgets, app personal trainers, group fitness classes — all to motivate us to get fit. Then there are ideas about nutrition. Vegan. Paleo. Clean eating. Raw food. Take your pick. We can make all of these changes, but if we don’t learn to love the body first, the changes will become temporary and not transformational.

 

The body is transformed by love; it needs to be loved first. It needs acceptance first. That person we see in the mirror needs to know that he or she is loved and accepted unconditionally.

 

When facilitating my health and wellness Bible study, The Ten Commandments for Living a Healthy and Fit Life, I always ask my participants, most of whom want to change their bodies, “Why should your body work for you or help you if you do not love or accept your body?”

Christ demonstrates His love for us in that when we were sinners—enemies of God and, unknowingly, of ourselves—He redeemed us, “the whole works” (Romans 5:7-9). Christ accepts us with all our imperfections and gives us instead His perfection. It is His love that transforms imperfection into perfection; judgement and condemnation to acceptance and freedom. He restores us from the inside-out and equips us with the power of the Holy Spirit to walk through wholeness.

Many of us are struggling with physical issues such as weight loss, food addictions, and sloth. Many of us will lose the battle until we embrace Christ’s perfection, love and acceptance. His truth will set us free and empower us to become all that God destines us to be within these mortal bodies.

God honored you with His Body, now honor Him with yours.

The value of the body? PRICELESS!

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