Look in the right place for stability and to express yourself. Rather than using tattoos, piercings, or other ways of marking your body for a sense of stability, turn to God’s promises in the Bible for that. Instead of using body markings as a way to express your unique personality and core values, do so by discovering and fulfilling God’s unique purposes for your life.

Follow God’s design for your sexuality. Ask God to help you avoid sexual sin, which harms your soul and dishonors the presence of the Holy Spirit within your body.Choose to either be celibate or have sex within marriage, because those are the two options that God – who created sex – sets forth as the only healthy choices. Seek healing if you’re struggling with sexual issues such as pornography, masturbation, homosexuality, adultery, or fornication. Encourage other Christians to live sexually pure lives in order to be healthy and honor God with their bodies.

Learn from pain. When your body suffers physical pain from an illness or injury, ask God to show you the purpose of that pain and help you learn from it whatever He wants you to learn. Keep in mind that pain points to the world’s brokenness in its fallen state and to God’s goodness as His power is revealed through people’s weaknesses. Look to Jesus as your ultimate role model of how to handle suffering. When He suffered, Jesus didn’t let his pain overwhelm Him or cause Him to ignore other people’s needs. Instead, Jesus reached out through His pain with compassion to help others. Ask Him to give you the strength to respond to your own suffering in the same way. When you’re facing death, thank God that you can face it without fear, because of Jesus’ bodily sacrifice that made your salvation possible.

Use your body for spiritual disciplines. Present your body to God as a living sacrifice in worship to Him. For example, you can practice fasting with your stomach, praying with your mouth and ears (to talk and listen to God), purity with your eyes (avoiding looking at things that lead to sin, such as envy or lust), and service to others in God’s name with your hands. Be sure to celebrate the sacrament of baptism if you haven’t already, using your body to express your new life in Christ. Celebrate the sacrament of communion often, since using your body to eat and drink as you remember Christ’s bodily sacrifice for you is a powerful way of connecting with Him.

Meet face to face with your brothers and sisters in Christ. While it’s valuable to have access to online and television worship services when you can’t attend worship in person (such as if you’re sick and must stay home), it’s much better to meet with other believers face to face to worship together, so make an effort to do so as much as possible. In person, using your body language and facial expressions, you all can communicate fully.

Adapted from Earthen Vessels: Why Our Bodies Matter to Our Faith, copyright 2011 by Matthew Lee Anderson. Published by Bethany House, a division of Baker Publishing Group, Bloomington, Mn., www.bethanyhouse.com

Matthew Anderson blogs at www.mereorthodoxy.com and firstthings.com/blogs/evangel. He graduated from Biola University’s Torrey Honors Institute in 2004 and spent a year studying at Oxford University. Matthew works at The Journey, a large interdenominational church where he conducts research and develops curriculum. He and his wife live in St. Louis, Missouri.

Whitney Hopler is a freelance writer and editor who serves as both a Crosswalk.com contributing writer and the editor of About.com’s site on angels and miracles (http://angels.about.com/). Contact Whitney at: angels.guide@about.comto send in a true story of an angelic encounter or a miraculous experience like an answered prayer. 

Publication date: August 9, 2011