I have a question for you, and how you answer reveals something about your view of Christmas.
Where do you nourish and care for your body?
For most of us we think about places like the gym, a doctor’s office, or maybe a health food store. Makes sense. That’s where my mind immediately goes. But why don’t our minds quickly think of a worship service, a Christian small group, a prayer ministry, our daily personal devotional times, or other spiritual disciplines?
Would it surprise you to know that these are intended to nourish and care for your body?
If your impulse is to think these are where you deal with your spiritual life and those other places are where you deal with your physical life, then without realizing it, you’ve probably been influenced by the heretical teachings of Gnosticism or Manichaeism, which suggest some version of the idea that “the spirit is good but the physical body is bad.”
In stark contrast, Christianity teaches that God is the Creator of everything (including all that’s physical), and that everything God creates is good.
“The body is not for immorality but for the Lord, and the Lord is for the body. Now God has not only raised the Lord, but will also raise us up through His power. Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ?” (1 Corinthians 6:13b-15a).
Furthermore, God’s wonderful design for human beings includes the unique union of spirit and body. Take away one or the other and a person becomes a corpse or a ghost. Take away your spirit or your body and you cease to be human, you cease to be you.
This is why sin is so devastating. When Adam and Eve sinned, they scooped death into humanity, severing the union of spirit and body, and so your body (like everybody’s body) became mortal, daily experiencing sin’s reign in your body (see Romans 6:12), and headed toward death.
This is why the incarnation is such good news! In Christ Jesus, God has come to restore humanity, and to raise our bodies up to holiness, life, and immortality.
Christmas is a celebration of God becoming flesh to save you, spirit and body!
Where do you go to nourish and care for your body? Certainly, go to the gym, to the doctor, and to the health food store. But this Christmas, as you practice the “spiritual” rituals of the season, don’t neglect letting your body be nourished by the good news of the incarnation. As you do, lift your hands in worship, raise your voice in song to Him a little louder, dance with your feet, embrace with your arms, laugh from your belly, clap with your hands, look with your eyes, listen with your ears, fall to your knees. Or perhaps simply place your hand on your chest and whisper, “Jesus, thank you for coming to save my body.”
This Christmas season, hear the glad tidings you’ve heard so many times before, but now hear them anew as glad tidings for your body:
“Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of great joy which will be for all the people; for today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. This will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger” (Luke 2:10-12).