Monday, March 10, 2014

Flesh and Faith

It was a warm day.  Snow is melting even now at 10:00 p.m.  Looking at the forecast there aren't more highs predicted in the upper 40s, but it's nice to have this one.  Earlier today I connected downspouts and extensions to keep the melt water away from the house but will most likely disconnect them tomorrow since we'll be back to just above freezing days and well below freezing nights soon.  But spring is coming.

God cares about "nature."  Sometimes Christian believers forget how big our God is.  There are some spiritual philosophies that make it seem as though God wants to separate us from physical, natural life, but that teaching is not in harmony with what I read in the Bible.  Not only is God the creator and maintainer of all things physical, God chose to enter nature by taking on human flesh (in the "incarnation"), live with us in the man Jesus, experience suffering and death as a prelude to a bodily resurrection.  God cares about the physical "natural" world.

In our series of Sunday messages on the Ten Commandments we've been counting backward from the purely spiritual (coveting) to words (testimony) to possessions (stealing).  Next comes the area of intimate, physical, bodily relationships as in "You Shall Not Commit Adultery."  I'm preparing to preach on that on March 16.

One thing that has been highlighted for me as we've been going along though this series, especially last week as we talked about stealing, is that for God there is no separation between "faith" and any other part of our lives.  Our actions, good and bad, out attitudes, our "heart" and "mind," and our physical bodies go together.  It's not all about our thoughts and intentions. God cares about what happens in the real, physical world--and what happens in the physical connects with the spiritual.  Every time.

An example of this is found in First Corinthians 6.  In that chapter, beginning at verse 12, the Lord rejects the idea that what happens with our bodies doesn't matter to Him.  In verses 19-20 He says:
"Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, who you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought with a price. Therefore honor God with your body."
We also find this connection in scriptures about physical healing--verses that are sometimes connected with the forgiveness of sins.  I often think of the way that Jesus forgave the sins of the paralytic before healing him--and of what the Lord teaches us in James:
"Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed." (James 5:16)
Returning to First Corinthians 6:12 and following, we see that the sexual unions that we have with others are of great concern to God.  I plan to share more about this in the days to come as I prepare to preach on "You shall not commit adultery," but for now let's just say that it's obvious that physical sexual unions are never just "casual" or unimportant.  Verse 16 says that the physical union, even when there is no emotional or spiritual connection, still makes a person "one" in body with another.  Every sexual connection we have with another affects us--in a way that is deeper than we may realize at the time.
"All other sins we commit are outside our bodies, but the one who sins sexually sins against his own body... [which] is a temple of the Holy Spirit." (v. 18,19)
Bodies matter.  Your life in connection with others, especially in terms of sexual connections--it affects you very deeply.  God's plan for such unions is called "marriage," a way for man and woman to come together in a lifelong union where God's faithfulness is reflected and appreciated, and where new life may come to be as children are conceived and born.

There's lots more to say, but this is a start.  Pray that God will grant good counsel as we prepare for Sunday.

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