How to Use Your Body for Christ
- Tuesday, August 09, 2011
Editor's Note: This article summarizes the practical applications of Matthew Anderson's recent book, Earthen Vessels: Why Our Bodies Matter to Our Faith, (Bethany House, 2011).
The body God made for you is both the place of your personal presence and a temple where the Holy Spirit lives within you. Your body – just like your soul – is holy. So it’s important to learn how to use it well when living out your faith.
Here’s how you can embody your faith by using your body for Christ:
Recognize the spiritual value of your body. Your body has spiritual, as well as physical, value. It’s a gift to you from God, meant for you to offer back to Him in worship by using it to glorify Him. The way Jesus used His human body on during His ministry on Earth shows the spiritual importance of it: His incarnation affirmed the body’s original goodness, His death showed its need for redemption, and His resurrection showed that there’s real hope for its restoration. Through Jesus’ bodily sacrifice on the cross for your sins, He gave himself for you. Decide to thank Him by using your body for Him.
Trade pursuing cultural standards of attractiveness with working with God to sanctify your body. Too many people waste valuable time and energy trying to make their bodies look like what their culture considers attractive, from buying certain types of clothes and makeup to dieting and working out – and even undergoing plastic surgery. Rather than focusing just on what your body looks like, focus on how healthy it is – both physically and spiritually. Take care of your body’s physical needs by eating nutritious foods, drinking plenty of water, and getting regular exercise and enough sleep. But also pay attention to how God wants you to grow spiritually by changing the way you use your body in your daily life. Derive your sense of personal identity from your relationship with Jesus (which is eternal) rather than from your body’s appearance (which is temporary.
Let your body teach you humility. Living inside a physical body limits your life. Your body confines you to a particular time and place and gives you certain physical abilities but not others, so you won’t be able to do everything you may like to do. Moreover, your body can become sick or injured, and it will age and eventually die – all of which further limit what you can do. Keep in mind that God has made you out of dust, and to dust you’ll eventually return. Let that knowledge motivate you to seek and rely on God’s help as you live each day. Instead of trying to run your own life with your limited power, invite God to lead you and work through you with His unlimited power.
Let your body’s dependence on natural resources motivate you to take care of creation. Your body needs food, water, air, clothing, and shelter. When you keep in mind that you’re dependent on those natural resources for your body’s ongoing existence, you can see the importance of God’s call to take good care of His creation on Earth. Do whatever you can to help the environment, from conserving the amount of energy you use to recycling. Since human beings are at the center of God’s creation, do your best to take care of other people, too. Treat vulnerable people – such as children, the elderly, the disabled, the poor, and those who are oppressed through injustices like sex trafficking – well, and help meet their practical needs when you can. Work to educate others about the value of human life and how it should impact decisions about abortion, euthanasia, and suicide.
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