Rev. Dick is pastor of Grace Protestant Reformed Church in Standale, Michigan.
Bodies bodies everywhere. What’s a body to think? God has made them. He has made the universe full of bodies, and He has put us smack dab in the middle of them. And He has even given glorious bodies for us to think about. There is a glory of the sun, of the moon, and of yon feline. Think about it. And thank God for such glories. It is all created—the size, the brightness, the power, and yes, the curves, to show something of the great and glorious and bodiless … God Himself!
Problem with us, however, is we can be toobody conscious.
We can be too concerned about human bodies. Why, there are whole books called “bod-books,” which are supposed to identify everyone from fresh men to seniors according, I suppose, to their bodies. Besides, what makes us feel good about ourselves is often just about how good we think we look as to our bodies. And what attracts us to other humans is often mostly their figures, or perhaps, what they can do with their bodies.
Too much. Body. That’s our problem.
We are more than that. We are more than the water that makes up a large percent of our bodies. We are more than the flesh, the bones, the hair, the glands, the organs, and the teeth. We are souls. We are soulish-bodies. We are bodies with hearts within hearts. And we can domore than catch, and throw, and ski, and digest. We can think. And do poetry. And love. And pray.
But seems so often bodies and flesh and the jamming of balls and dressing to kill and hankering after and dreaming of, and being just bodies is all.
Our little life.
Of the earth earthy.
Of heaven? Of communion with the God above? Of spiritual blessings in heavenly places?
Seems like that’s alright for the body…of a creed.
Or maybe for the bodies of those who are old and gray and about to lay their bodies down to sleep in the grave.
But I in my body, you in yours … and at the same time more than meets the eye and sniffs and sleeps and touches and toils and wants to wed….
So what’s a body to think? What is a grace-life young body to think? And to do?
First thing is, relax. Bodies are gifts of God. And Christianity is not and is not to be an “out-of-body” experience. Don’t think of your bodies as so much excess baggage, weighing down the soul and interfering with the soul-life. Be set free of the talons of the tall tale that sanctification is all about suppression of this, that, or any and every other desire to eat, drink, and even to be merry in the body. The incarnation of our Lord puts that notion to rest. And Saint Paul speaks of every creature of God (including their bodies) being good and even a blessing when sanctified by the Word of God and prayer.
But second thing is this. You want to know about bodies and what to think of them and do with them as believers? You want to know what to do or not with your body, or with her body? You want to know how to admire beautiful bodies without lusting after them? You want to know the difference between a good and godly getting “in shape” and anorexia or being the all-American who sweated and sprinted away his soul? You want to know how not to want more stuff and bodies than is good for the soul? You want really to be able to desire and to pray just for daily bread and not daily caviar or a bevy of Bachelors or to be an American idol?
Here. Simple. Profound. The Word of God. Truth of God. Salvation. Gospel of grace. Jewel which is Jesus. Of souls. And about bodies.
It is this.
Discern the body. That’s it. That body is the body of our Lord Jesus Christ. That body is the body of God with us in real human flesh. It is that Son of God come to substitute for real sinful human souls and their bodies. It is that body which bore sin for us, and the wrath of God for sin. It is the Savior Body broken that we might be again one with God. It is the body risen asthe Head for the justification of that other body He makes, that body, His, called the Church.
Yes, the Church. That too is the body we must discern, and exactly because it is the body of our Lord Himself.
The body of our Lord is the people of God who are chosen in Him, bought by Him, indwelt by Him. It is the One in Him. It is the many on earth and the many in heaven and bound by grace to be glorified one day body and soul. It is the body of the Bride blessed of Him. It is the beautiful virtuous body of Him.
Discern that, Grace Life readers! That is, know what that body, that Christ, that Church of Christis. And then: know and acknowledge the difference between the Christ and His Churchand all those other bodies in the heavens and on earth! And then, at the same time: Value this Body of bodies, this Christ and His Church, more than all you can see and get and chew and gain and throw and hug and kiss and marry and walk on and put in your bank.
Discern? Separate in your mind from all others? Value above all others? Christ and His Church? When over there they go surfing on Sunday, and it looks so fun, and here I am in a tree and it’s a certain week in November and it’s just the best? When, though Jesus has never let me down, His Church surely has, and that body looks to me kind of battered, and, well … blah?
Discern? How? Just How?
Just this: Believe. Exercise that wonderful gift giving you an eye for God, and an appetite for things that earth can neither afford nor contain (in any body!).
Believe! Trust God! Place complete confidence in the Captain of your salvation, Jesus Christ. Be confident in all He has revealed in His Word. Hold it for truth, and that the salvation-from-sin-and-to-be-with-God life is all your happiness now and forever.
Believe! Exercise unto pools of sweat and blood your faith. Tear from too much world. See how tiny and temporal are the things that perish with the using. Stop blaming God for body problems. Try a little repenting….
Right now, and for the discernment of the body of Christ: that kind of believing! In your body, in your place in your skin with your blemishes and in the midst of so many bodies below and though you and I tumble and fall over and over again in our bodies on this earth … believe!
And believing, hop, skip, and run with no further delay to these merry things that make for believing: Hearing Jesus in His Word and by His Preachers! Loving Jesus, which is an obeying of Jesus! Cherishing His salvation and life and blessings in Him, which is a disdaining of the vanities of this life! Giving to and being involved in His cause and kingdom and people … more than to or in any body else in the universe!
All this, of course, is being soulish in your body. Which is good. Which is the way God made us humans to be. But it goes against the grain of fallen nature. And it surely goes against the urges of a growing young grace life believer.
The easy thing, even for Christians, is to go with the grain. It is quite bodily of us, even carnal, and very common to yield in the body to the flesh, to the principle of sin still snurking around even in what we thought were the most safe and sacred of houses and habits.
But an easy bad thing. An easy devastating thing.
For then, like Corinthian Christians long ago, we do not discern, as we ought, that body of our Lord. In fact, not discerning the Lord’s body was for all kinds of body problems at Corinth long ago. It even got folks killed there (I Cor. 11:29ff.), and some believing in no resurrection of the body (chapter 15), and spoiling the communion with God and one another in one perverted bodily way or another.
Beware! Lack of discernment and preaching and hearing and believing of Christ and of Him crucified, and lack of love for Him and His Church … is becoming and has become the death of many-a-professing believer and even of many-a-once-Reformed body of believers.
That body! Christ’s body!
Discern it, exalt Him, and exult!
Live in communion with that body, and not with the wicked world.
Through faith, dear Grace Life readers!
For blessing of body and soul.
And the grace life.
In the body now even.
Not for your kingdom
Nor your perfect 10.
But for God’s
And His blessing
And the perfect
In the body and the soul…