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~ The Sacred, On Loan from God ~

Many religious faiths view the physical world and the human body as obstacles to overcome or as "illusion" that must be transcended. Christianity is not one of them. The Genesis creation account explains how the human body was constructed from the earth's elements and then infused with God's breath, His Spirit. After His resurrection, Christ adamantly proclaimed to His disciples He was not in purely spirit-form, but in a glorified bodily state. He told Thomas to physically feel His wounds and ascended into the heavens in the same body-spirit. He asked His disciples for "something to eat" and they watched Him eat and drink in awe. The resurrection of our bodies in a "glorified" state is a central tenant of Christian belief. Christ was giving us an idea of what we would look like and be like at that time.

Christian teaching is also clear that all of creation, since "all things are held together in Him," has a consciousness. Some Christians ignore this, fearing it suggests pantheism. Not that it hasn't happened, but I have never heard a preacher expound on Paul's proclamation: "The creation waits in eager expectation for the sons of God to be revealed. For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the glorious freedom of the children of God. We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time" (Romans 8:19-22, NIV). This teaching stretches back to Genesis 3:17b: "Cursed is the ground because of you." We speak of the "fall of man" when we best consider "the fall of all creation."

We know our bodies are cursed with disease, aging, disorders and corrupted DNA that is passed onto our children. Prophecy tells us of a "new heaven and new earth," not just a new heavenly state. We will not become like angels who have no physical bodies. Somehow, the body-spirit of humans will be superior to that of angels, and the scriptures teach we will then be in the position to "judge" them.

Corrupted as they are, our bodies are sacred, the scriptures teach. "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 at a price. Therefore honor God with your body" (1 Corinthians 6:19-20). "Don't you know that you yourselves are God's temple and that God's Spirit lives in you? If any one destroys God's temple, God will destroy him; for God's temple is sacred, and you are that temple" (1 Corinthians 3:16-17).

These revelations are so remarkable! Despite the sorry state of our bodies, the Creator still chooses to make them His temples. We can never surpass our God in any attribute, including humility that is clothed in love.

Furthermore, they are not our bodies, as we were "bought at a price." It is interesting how most of us would take greater care of books, cars, homes and tools that are "bought at a price" by another and loaned to us than we would of what we regard as our own possessions. In gratitude for the loan, we typically return the item in as good or better condition than it was upon our receipt of it. If you are like me, who may have been given the use of a friend's truck or vehicle, you cleaned it up inside and out before returning it and filled the gas tank. Are we to do any less with our bodies, which are not our own but bought with a price?

The implications of these teachings reach into a higher realm. Since body and spirit are bonded in this way, then the attentive care of our bodies must also result in a greater spirituality and ability to understand the mysteries of the heavens. That is why gluttony is listed as a sin equal to that of sexual immorality, although gluttony tends to be the subject of jokes among some Christian preachers who pat their protruding bellies and "praise God" for "good living." One wonderful and refreshing exception is that of a minister I heard speak of his troubled conscience regarding his weight and decided to join a weight-loss program. He explained how he not only felt healthier physically, but also spiritually. Our sacred bodies are the gateway to the spiritual world, in health and suffering.

"May God Himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul, and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ" (1 Thessalonians 5:23).  

John S. Hilkevich, Ph.D.

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