Your Body the Temple
God created your body as a masterpiece — take care of it!
There are a variety of ways to answer the question: What is the body? Chemically, the body is mostly water. Structurally, it is a complex of interrelated and interdependent systems. The body is full of marvels and mystery. It is both fragile and resilient. Your body is hardly just the next random mutation in an unguided evolutionary process. The Bible says, “You are God’s workmanship.” (Ephesians 2:10) Some translations say we are his “masterpiece” which speaks how each of us is God’s work of art.
When I travel I enjoy watching people in airports and in the different parts of the world. All the flavors of humanity are really beautiful; people of all shapes and sizes, a variety of hues and yet each bearing the image of God. The Bible says we are each “wonderfully made.” (Psalm 139:14) Yet, even a quick glance at people will reveal that death is at work in the members of the body. As a minister, I officiate at a number of funerals and walk with people through the last stages of life on earth. 2 Corinthians 5:1 is obvious – the body is a tent that ultimately deteriorates and is one day no more.
A “tent” is a dwelling place and the point is the body is a place where we reside for a season – eventually the “tent” does breaks down. That’s what that passage is talking about when it says “…Outwardly we waste away yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day.” These monthly articles address the fact that the spiritual and physical dimensions of each of us are dynamically related. Both dimensions of who we are contribute to wellness and longevity.
In answering the question, “What is the body?” the Bible answers with a question… “Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit [?]” (2 Corinthians 5:1) This thing I call my body is not just a “tent” where the real me dwells; it is a Temple for God to dwell in, as well. His Spirit indwells us as we invite God into our lives.
Some are quickly bored reading the passages in the Bible that detail the specific layout and even the furniture in the ancient Jewish Temple. Chapter after chapter of explicit instructions are given as to what can and can not be in the Temple area including where things must be placed and what defilements are to be kept away. Many of us rearrange our homes from time to time and it’s really inconsequential.
However, just as God gave specific instructions to Noah in building the ark, he gave specific instructions for the Temple, which, for centuries, served as his dwelling place on earth. The Bible says he no longer lives in temples made by human hand but that he dwells in us. The body is masterfully ordered and it is very consequential what we do and do not allow in our bodies. Had Noah not followed God’s explicit instructions for the ark, the boat (and every living thing in it) would have succumbed to the waves and sea.
All the above is context and background for this very important point. If God ordered his earthly dwelling place meticulously and gave stern warnings and instructions of what can and can not be in it, how much more does it matter what does and does not go in his spiritual dwelling today – the human body? Here’s the entire passage about our bodies being God’s temple:
“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 with a price. Therefore honor God with your body.”
These passages speak of our value to God and how serious a matter it is when we treat our bodies poorly. It is a spiritual matter what we eat and what we don’t eat. God’s path to life and health is just that, a path… “There is a way that leads to life and few find it.” (Matthew 7:14) That path, or way, involves passing by many food and drink temptations every day and learning what and how to pursue what is good for us — body, soul and Spirit.
A few years ago I served communion in a hospital to a woman whose health deteriorated mainly because she was drinking twenty-four cans of Mountain Dew everyday day. For me, there was a disconnect in that somehow, to her, the communion elements I was serving were “spiritual” and the can of Mountain Dew next to her was just a “refreshment.” No, it was a poison and we talked about the spiritual dimensions of the path she was going down physically. Of course, hers is an extreme example, but the little toxins we allow in every day have the same end.
Close behind loving God and loving others as yourself, the most spiritual thing you can do is honor this dwelling of God, your body and that happens when we are careful what we put in it.