God created human beings uniquely as both body and a spirit.
But if you listen to the language among many of us, you’ll hear hints that we actually don’t live as though we believe it’s true:
- “Spiritual life” is a separate matter from “daily life.”
- Aesthetics shouldn’t matter in worship.
- Death of the body “frees” the spirit.
- Male and female are superficial (surface) elements of personhood.
- Sex is just two bodies enjoying each other.
Each of these exposes an erroneous belief that humanity is primarily spirit, or perhaps a spirit encased temporarily in a physical body.
Jesus was fully human—both body and spirit. Any question that He may have been primarily spirit is washed away in the gospel texts as we see the passion of the Christ, his three days dead in the tomb, and his resurrection.
Why does this matter for us? What difference does it make for us to believe we are not primarily spirit encased in a body, but rather we are both spirit and body?
Because to love and receive love as a body-spirit creature means the body must be involved.
Christ demonstrated this in his life as he touched, spoke, fed, listened, healed, and raised people from the dead.
Where we view the body as secondary, we will inadvertently downplay the importance of others’ bodies. In other words, we will either be prone to mistreat or neglect their bodies. But when we know them as body-spirit creatures, it encourages us to be more mindful of them as a whole person.
And where we downplay the central role of the body in human experience, we downplay the role of the body in our own relationships with God. Your body is not just a vehicle God has issued you so you can get around down here. Your body is you (as is your spirit) whom God loves.
God loves your body. (And if you’re like me, you may need Christ’s help to purify twisted versions of what that means.) He looks at your body and sees . . . you.
Pause for a moment and pay attention to how that idea feels to you. Where you notice tinges of shame, sadness, fear, discomfort, threat, these are likely indicators you carry some faulty views of your body, your gender, God, or all three. Good Friday and Easter Sunday hold something for you.
God desires to love and be loved by you bodily.
This Friday as you partake in the Eucharist, receive afresh Christ’s body and blood into your own. Let the essence of who He is unite with the essence of who you are. And be transformed.
I’d love to hear your thoughts and reactions. Leave a comment below.