“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.