(This post was published at RelevantMagazine.com)
Every once in a while a truth about God and his designs will come to light for me like a neon sign suddenly flickering on in the middle of a dark desert night. God flips a switch and reveals to the bleary eyes of my spirit some luminous concept buzzing and pulsating with color.
That happened this week as I was reading what I thought would be a fairly dry theology book, Christian Symbol and Ritual. I came across this thought: “Though we are primarily spiritual beings, persons who think and imagine and desire and choose, we can act in this spiritual and personal way only because our bodiliness places us in time and space and allows us to communicate with one another…”
Click, buzz, the light bulb came on. Ok, yes, my body is a temple 1, a vessel 2, a mortal coil 3, but something about this particular statement gave me a flash of eternal perspective. Our bodies place us—primarily spiritual beings–in time and space.
What if, instead of being a burden and something to be endured, our current bodily manifestation is a special gift that enables our spirits to be anchored in time in and space for a time, to do work that can only be done using our bodies, and will be viewed as a period of special opportunity in our eternal existence?
What if the way our specific bodies are designed is exactly what is needed in this time and space that we live in, to enable our spirits to collaborate physically with God in this world? What if the amount of time we’ve each been given in this bodily vessel (in its current state) is the perfect amount of time to accomplish what it is that God prepared for us before time began? What if we each have a mission and purpose that is unequivocally tied to and dependent upon the body we’ve been given?
Well, that means that my body, a temple of the Holy Spirit and container of my spirit, is to be maintained and “stewarded” in a way that will maximize its use as an instrument for God. Though it is dust, it’s a glorious feat of engineering and work of art (though imperfect), and offers me an opportunity to do things in this world that can only be done while inhabiting this body.
It also means I best get busy finding and carrying out my mission. That I best throw off distractions, and boredom, and fear, so that I can look back at this span of life in my body—this short 70 or 80 or 90 years–from eternity and recognize some points where I did the best I could with what I had.
This brings new meaning to the verse, “So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.” (1 Cor 10:31)
Not sure what God’s mission is for you right now? Default to this verse. Whether studying, eating, working, playing, resting, and talking, whatever physical act you do in your body; do all to the glory of God.
How? God is glorified when his love lives in and through us. So regularly get filled up with, and then give away his love in every way, all the time. Endeavor to approach everything you do with his spirit of love. Along the way, he’ll give you specific, even unique and specialized ways to make his love known that will most likely align with the desires and dreams he’s put in you.
Really, this is how Jesus lived. He was timeless spirit, but chose to be anchored in time and space. He had limited years in an earthly body, but he knew his body was necessary for accomplishing his mission. He didn’t obsess about his physical limitations. He rested and ate when his body required it. He didn’t rush around frantically trying to “get more done”. He got filled up daily with the
Father’s love through prayer, worship, and scripture study and he freely gave that love away. He simply did what the Father showed him, and that was enough.
Right now, today, in this circumstance, in this body as it is, you and I have unique opportunities to live in and for God’s glory, by simply doing what he shows us to do, and breathing his love in and out.
And the effects of aligning ourselves with God’s love while inhabiting these incredible containers that anchor us in time and space will echo throughout eternity.
- I Cor. 6:19
- I Thess. 4:4 NASB
- William Shakespeare, Hamlet, act III, scene 1
J. Scott McElroy is the author of Finding Divine Inspiration (Destiny Image) and The Creative Church Handbook: Releasing the Power of the Arts in Your Congregation (InterVarsity Press). He directs The New Renaissance Arts Movement and blogs at JScottMcElroy.com. Reach him at Scott(at)TheNewR.org