Wird Geladen

Lessons from my own bible study

Archive for the tag “Corinthians”

Worshiping God By Worshiping Our Bodies

The best way to change our minds is to change our habits.  Habits are things we do without thinking, a divot we follow mindlessly along the road of life.  Changing a habit requires attention, concentration, and consideration of why that habit needs to be changed in the first place; it implies there’s a better alternative.  In this post we’ll discuss why making good choices for our bodies helps put God at the center of our lives.

In the first place, the body already stands at the center of our lives.  Everything we experience takes place right here.  Our thinking happens in the head, our doing happens in the hands, our seeing happens in the eyes, our growing happens in the stomach- we don’t need a lesson on the uses of different body parts.  But it makes sense that when we look to the body, we’re seeing the center of our life.  Here’s what Paul says in 1 Corinthians:

DO YOU NOT KNOW THAT YOUR BODY IS A TEMPLE OF THE HOLY SPIRIT WITHIN YOU, WHICH YOU HAVE RECEIVED FROM GOD AND THAT YOU ARE NOT YOUR OWN?  FOR YOU WERE BOUGHT WITH A PRICE, THEREFORE GLORIFY GOD IN YOUR BODY.        

                                                                                  v. 6:19-20

We all have habits that harm or weaken our body.  As it stands we live with these habits, and though we may want to change, there’s no need- no motivation- good enough to get us there.  Falling into a bad habit again and again is enough to dig us into despair.  It breeds guilt, and hopelessness- probably the two most opposite things to God.  Changing out of habits that hurt our bodies can revamp our efforts at getting to know God, and placing him at our center.

For the sake of example, I’ll give some major habits that hurt my body.  The first is smoking.  A single cigarette parches out my lungs and throat for days- not unreasonably I feel burnt inside.  The feeling permeates my whole body.  I can’t turn my head, or sit up, or even speak without some cottony resistance.  Smoking interrupts all the fluid, natural movements that make life sweet.

The second is junk food.  It’s so easy to eat cheap, low quality, food.  Cooking, vegetables, exercise- these mean sacrifices of time, money, and effort that life seems easier to do without.  Yet if the body is the temple of Christ, then nutritious eating is the lawn service, the janitor, the contractor, the electrician, the plumber, the cleaning service, and everything else that goes into keeping a building shining and standing tall.

For the sake of a totally different example, in Berlin I had a bike that I got for free.  I never chained it up, I rode it through the snow and mud puddles, I popped high curbs.  Three months in my possession and the chain had rusted away, the tires stuck, the gears fell out of place; I eventually just had to abandon it.  My friend lent me his bike in the meantime.  I keep that bike indoors while I’m not riding it.  I stay on smooth road, go around puddles, and lock it obsessively.  I owe my friend all the respect and gratitude in the world for his generosity, and taking care of his bike is the best way to show my appreciation (really the least I can do).

It’s easy to mistreat something we consider our own, especially if it comes for free, or if it’s been around a while.  But quite in fact, our bodies are extraordinarily expensive, one-of-a-kind gifts, which our dad has lent to us with a joyful, hopeful purpose.  “Do you not know that your bodies you received from God, and that you are not your own?”  Our bodies are meant for God’s glory, just like everything else.

Making sacrifices for the health of the body means making sacrifices for the glorification of God.  Resisting the temptation to smoke, or lust, or follow whatever habit brings us down demands that we pay constant attention to our bodies, and in doing so we’re paying constant attention to God.

In the effort to figure out how to make God the center of our lives, let us try re-imagining the body as GOD’s temple on Earth, the tool by which he works here.  Let us think now and try to come up with some things we do to your bodies that we dislike; some bad or nasty habit that leaves us breathless and achy.  Conversely, what habits do we know would make life sweeter but just haven’t picked up yet?  When the time comes to make the choice- should I or shouldn’t I- think of God and use His glory to do what’s good for your body.  His glory can be the motivation we need to change our habits and make our bodies the healthiest, happiest machine it can be.

TIP #2- We put God at the center of our lives by worshiping our bodies and breaking the habits that harm them.

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This has been the second installment of the “Putting God at The Center” series.  Follow along next time when we consider how mealtime prayers keep us in line with our goal of putting God at the center of our lives.  Comments, feedback, shares, suggestions, criticisms are always encouraged.

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We Worship Whatever We Sacrifice To

Look at the Israelites; those who eat the sacrifice are partners in the altar.  What pagans sacrifice, they sacrifice to demons, not to God.  Do not be partners with demons.

1 Cor 10: 18-20

The word eat in the Bible means to take part in, to internalize, to align yourself with.  We eat the bread of Christ, but we also eat tennis, or shopping, or sex, or TV marathons.  Thus Paul is not just talking about food here, but anything we might conceivably do or care about.  That’s the first thing to keep in mind while reading this passage (and the whole Bible, really).

The second thing we have to keep in mind is how we’re using the word “worship”.

15 Second context: Those Greeks who were not the converted Christians to whom Corinthians is addressed were called“pagans”.  They used to sacrifice animals during worship ceremonies to stone/gold/wooden idols and then eat the meat in a feast directly afterwards.

So many of these words- pagan, idol, sacrifice- have negative connotations to the Christian ear, but they are simply ideas which all humans carry out every day.  Any decision we make involves a sacrifice to an idol- giving up one thing in order to have something else.  This is an act of worship.  We worship whatever we sacrifice for.  We make it an idol- even temporarily- and put it above all other desires, implying that it deserves to be the pinnacle of our obedience.  To worship doesn’t mean fall on the knees and bow down, or write songs and poems about, or say high words, or burn in a golden cup.  Worship simply means to choose first.

Think about going to the gym.  You pay money for memberships, you avoid certain foods, you get up off the couch and stop watching Friends.  Almost anything is better than going to the gym.  But if you care about the results, you go anyway.  You sacrifice all the wonderful, lazy things in life to the idol of fitness, and worship your body by working out.

At Chili’s there’s a 16 dollar plate of ribs which is awesome, and there’s a 12 dollar bowl of pasta that’s just OK.  If you’re cheap like me you choose the 12 dollar pasta every time, and live with the mediocre decision.  You make a choice to keep your four dollars, and in doing so you’re worshiping money.

Here’s a final example:  I read the Bible every morning, which is where I get all the posts for this blog.  Before I start my Bible study, though, I sometimes spend about 20 minutes on the computer checking email, facebook, this, that, and the other.  In my heart I would like to make the Bible study first and foremost- that feels more important to me.  Certain days, however, I sacrifice my desire to have Bible study first thing to my desire to satiate my digital idol.  I worship whatever is waiting for me on the internet, and put God second.

I chose these mundane examples to make a point.  It may sounds ridiculous, or extreme, or like a technicality, but the psychological minutia of our daily, hourly, minutely choices is extremely important if we want a clear picture of what we hold at the center of our lives, as opposed to what lies just to the outside.  There’s nothing wrong with wanting to spend less money or checking your email first thing in the morning.  The choices we’re making aren’t “bad” or “good”, but we need to be aware that even our smallest sacrifices form the foundational characteristic of our being.  

Thus, the first tactic toward getting God into the center of our lives is to think about and be aware of the duality of what we’re sacrificing and what we’re making sacrifices to.  With this in mind our choices are tinged with the knowledge that we are worshiping whatever we’ve just decided on.  This allows us to be keenly aware of what we’re partnering ourselves with- what we eat- and if we want God to be at the center of our lives we need to make sure we’re sacrificing things for Him, and not the other way around.

Tip #1- Keep an eye on what we’re making sacrifices to, so we can make sure we’re making sacrifices to God.

The clearer our focus is on what we worship through our sacrifices, the clearer our understanding will be of where we are, how we got there, and most importantly where we’re going.  If God is the End Result, then making movement toward Him through sacrifice means we are not lost, and the abundance of His joy (as detailed in Isaiah 55) becomes ours more and more completely.

I hope you’ve enjoyed the first installment of the “Putting God at The Center” series.  Follow along next week for a look at how our bodies can be the perfect place to focus our efforts.  Comments, feedback, shares, suggestions, criticisms are always encouraged.

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