We know it’s important to stay in shape spiritually. Right? I mean, as Christians we know we’re on this earth temporarily, and eventually, these bodies of ours will age and, over the course of a century, crumble back to dust. But our souls will live on for eternity in heaven if we stay right with God on His path.
Still, some of us get so caught up in the spiritual stuff that we forget: God gave us a body for a reason. Now, not all of us are prime specimens. Maybe we’ve lost some muscle tone, or because of age, life circumstance, or infirmity, lost some of our original physical abilities. (Or maybe, like me, we’re spending too much time with that carton of ice cream binging on Netflix.) Let’s face it: We can’t all look like Captain America—or Captain Marvel.
I might not know why God chose to confine us to this all-too-human set of skin and bones, rife with temptation and weakness and cravings and more. But I do know that God chose in the beginning to create us as we are. As it says in Genesis, “God created humanity in God’s own image, in the divine image God created them, male and female God created them” (Genesis 1:27 CEB).
It’s not only our creation story, either. Our bodies have a purpose! As Jesus reminded us in the Gospel of John, “‘I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, then you will produce much fruit. Without me, you can’t do anything. If you don’t remain in me, you will be like a branch that is thrown out and dries up. Those branches are gathered up, thrown into a fire, and burned. If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask for whatever you want and it will be done for you’” (John 15:5-7).
Years later, the apostle Paul wrote to the early Christians in Ephesus, “No one ever hates his own body, but feeds it and takes care of it just like Christ does for the church” (Ephesians 5:29), and to the Christians in Rome, “Present your bodies as a living sacrifice that is holy and pleasing to God” (Romans 12:1).
And finally, in Paul’s words to the Christians in Corinth, “Don’t you know that your bodies are parts of Christ? … Or don’t you know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you? Don’t you know that you have the Holy Spirit from God, and you don’t belong to yourselves? You have been bought and paid for, so honor God with your body” (1 Corinthians 5:15,19-20).
Honoring God with our body looks different to different people. I choose to look at my body as a tool God can use to show His love in the world. I can use my arms to hammer nails while on a mission trip, or my legs to walk in solidarity with a friend in need. I can use the God-given compassion in my heart to pray for others, or the strength of my mind to decipher logistics or solve ministry funding problems.
The important thing is that I remember I am God’s tool, His instrument, created by Him to do His work whatever that looks like and at whatever stage I’m in.
Today, I might feel tired or weak. But I’m lacing up my sneakers, brewing some coffee, and jumping all-in.
Until next time, stay armored up.