Daily Devotions

Respect Your Body

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“I APPEAL to you therefore, brothers and sisters, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.” (Romans 12:1)

 

What we do with our bodies is a spiritual practice. When we misuse our bodies, we misuse the Spirit’s blessing. It is sad, how poorly we treat our bodies. When we drink too much alcohol, our bodies are being poisoned. When we act out sexually, with many partners, our bodies are affected spiritually. When we allow ourselves to become obese it has spiritual as well as physical consequences.

 

This was a powerful issue for the Apostle Paul. Paul came out of the Jewish tradition, where the earthly body was respected. Many Jews at that time believed in a bodily resurrection when the Messiah came. One’s body was not to be treated disrespectfully. The challenge came when Paul was called to preach to the Greek community.

 

The Greeks believed that the body was corrupt. It was the body that kept the individual from fully realizing their true spiritual nature. The body was a crutch that one looked forward to shedding in death. For the Greeks, the soul was the only thing worthy of acceptance into the afterlife. Since the body was a corruption, they had very little respect for the body.

 

When Greeks came to Christianity they had a difficult time affirming Jesus’ bodily resurrection. They could not comprehend their body being of value, let alone their body following them into eternal life. Since the body was corrupt, many Greeks believed it was acceptable to mistreat their bodies because they were of no value anyway. That is why the Greek religions could include activities like temple prostitution. What was done with their bodies was meaningless. Paul could not abide by this understanding of the body.

 

Today, reflect on how you are treating your body. Do you treat it disrespectfully or as a sacred blessing? Consider ways in which you can do a better job of respecting your physical body. Write these ideas down. Then pray that God can provide the strength and discipline necessary to provide a beneficial change in the way you treat your body. God does not want us to separate the physical from the spiritual. Our physical bodies as well as our spiritual bodies were made in the image of God. It is time we respect them both.

Careful, or You'll Get a Callus

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“So that you may not claim to be wiser than you are, brothers and sisters, I want you to understand this mystery: a hardening has come upon part of Israel, until the full number of the Gentiles has come in.” (Romans 11:25)

 

When I was a boy I was constantly skinning up knees and elbows. My mother used to say, “Scott, you are one big callus.” After a knee would get all skinned up, a couple days later I would get a nasty callus. According to Wikipedia, “A callus is a toughened area of the skin which has become relatively thick and hard in response to repeated friction, pressure, or other irritation.” “The cells of the calluses are dead.”

 

The Greek word in Romans 11:25 for “hardening” is “porosis” which means “callusness.” Originally, the word meant “petrification or numbness.” Why am I spending so much time picking apart the word “callus?” (Pun intended.) I find the Apostle Paul is using a clever play on words in order to make his point. The people of Israel have become like a callus, toughened, and perhaps even dead. They got that way through repeated friction, pressure, and irritation struggling with their exclusion of the Gentile communities.

 

I am deeply concerned that the Christian Church is getting a callus on its heart. Not unlike the people of Israel, we are feeling the friction, pressure, and irritation that comes with excluding an ethnic group. Instead of Gentiles, we are excluding immigrants and refugees. My worry is that this form of exclusion will make us feel tough, which sadly will give us the impression of impenetrability, when in actuality, it will make us dead.

 

I do not want us to end up like a dead, old callus. We worship a living God. We read from the living Word. We commune with a living Spirit. We cannot let an exclusive attitude bring death to our ministry. Struggle does not produce spiritual calluses. A spirit of exclusion is what skins up our hearts and leaves a callus on our soul. It is important to our own souls to find a way to embrace the immigrant and refugee. Their well-being is vital to our spiritual health and well-being. We are bound together in the faith.

 

Today, make a commitment to learning more about immigrant and refugee issues in our community and nationally. The New Testament spends a huge amount of time trying to encourage the hardened people of faith to embrace the Gentile. I hope we have learned from our ancestors in the faith and do not allow the calluses of exclusion to harden our hearts. It is time to embrace our immigrant and refugee brothers and sisters. Act now!

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