Almost every believer would say that God cares about your physical body. But why? Isn’t your body going to die? Many would say that your body isn’t the real YOU; the real YOU is the spiritual core of who you are. So why should it matter what you do with your body as a Christian?
My professional life as a physician has been largely devoted to caring for physical bodies. But one thing I learned early on is that one’s physical body is not isolated from the other dimensions of who we are. Attitudes, experiences, relationships, choices, and beliefs have a huge impact on physical wellbeing, and vice versa.
You’ve almost certainly heard sermons based on 1 Corinthians 6, seeing your body as the temple of the Holy Spirit. But the Bible is much richer than just that one verse when it comes to a theology of the body. That Scripture is just one element of the long narrative about God’s view of your body, and what that means.
So let’s briefly look at the range of the Bible’s view of your physical body.
God Himself created our physical bodies.
“Then the Lord God formed the man of dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living creature.” (Genesis 2:7)
Can you imagine the God of the universe kneeling on the ground of the earth He had just created with His words, but this time with His eternal hands personally forming Adam’s head, neck, shoulders, chest, arms, belly, genitals, legs? Then picture God bending over and with His own lips breathing His breath into Adam.
And He called His creation of human beings “Very Good!” What glory!
Sure, thousands of years of living in this sinful world has damaged our DNA and heaped up propensities for disease and disability on humankind. But remember that God formed humankind with His own hands!
And He called His creation Very Good.
Jesus cared for and healed physical bodies.
“And all the crowd sought to touch him, for power came out from him and healed them all.” (Luke 6:19)
Multiple Old Testament Scriptures show God as a God who heals physical bodies. A large part of Jesus’ earthly ministry was ministering to physical bodies. He provided food. He healed the sick. He raised the dead. While the kingdom He came to establish is not of this world, the kingdom of God evidently includes physical wholeness. It was a critical element of Jesus ministry.
Jesus came in a physical body, and was resurrected with a physical body.
“Consequently, when Christ came into the world, he said, “Sacrifices and offerings you have not desired, but a body have you prepared for me;”” (Hebrews 10:5)
“He foresaw and spoke about the resurrection of the Christ, that he was not abandoned to Hades, nor did his flesh see corruption.” (Acts 2:31)
The eternal Word, God the Son, took on human flesh, a physical body. And He was resurrected with a physical body, one that could no longer die.
Too often our human concept of the body ignores the reality that God values it enough to take on a human body Himself – not only during His time on earth, but for eternity!
The Holy Spirit dwells in our physical body.
“Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body. (1 Corinthians 6:19-20)
Not only did God the Son take on human flesh for eternity; God the Holy Spirit chooses to live in human flesh now. In you and me. Jesus paid dearly – “with a price” – so that God the Holy Spirit can make US His home!
How you live in and care for your body can glorify God – or not.
“So glorify God in your body.” (1 Corinthians 6:20)
What you do with your physical body either glorifies God – or not.
How you integrate rhythms of rest into your life glorifies God – or not. What you choose to take into your body, in terms of food or other substances, glorifies God – or not. How you use your body when it comes to sexual activity glorifies God – or not. (1 Cor. 6:12-20) Whether you “let yourself go” when it comes to appearance and grooming glorifies God – or not.
How you care for your body impacts your joy, and your usefulness in God’s kingdom.
“I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.” (Romans 12:1)
Both by creation and by redemption your body does not belong first to you; it belongs to God. You are only a steward of your physical body, entrusted by God with caring for it and “using” it for the benefit of His kingdom. That is worship!
From my perspective as a physician, I see a majority of disease and dysfunction as caused largely by the choices people make. We are not guaranteed a life free of disease and death, but our joy and our usefulness for God’s kingdom can be dramatically enlarged and extended by caring for our bodies as good stewards.
Our physical body is integrated with our whole human nature.
“Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” (Romans 12:2)
This verse follows the one in the previous point, connecting how we present ourselves to God physically with the renewal of our minds and our relationship with God. All these aspects of our being are connected. When Adam became a living being every part of him was connected. And every part of us impacts every other part as well.
Our physical body is not ultimately the most important.
“And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell.” (Matthew 10:28)
While some place too little value on caring for their physical body, there are those who value it too much. As with money, time, and all other resources, our physical bodies are gifts, tools, to be stewarded carefully for the larger purpose God has given us. An aging body, a body that looks different, a body impacted by disease or disability, says nothing about your value, about how much God loves you, or about whether or not God can use you in His kingdom.
Our physical body here is temporary, finite.
“So we are always of good courage. We know that while we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord, for we walk by faith, not by sight. Yes, we are of good courage, and we would rather be away from the body and at home with the Lord.” (2 Corinthians 5:6-8)
Our physical bodies are valuable because they allow us to experience life and fulfill God’s purposes for us in this life. But they are temporary. Every single human being alive today will die, unless Jesus returns first. Keeping our eyes on eternity helps us navigate disappointments when we do not experience physical healing now, and assures us of the “far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory” that is to come. (2 Corinthians 4:17)
Our resurrected body will be different, but still a body.
“For this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality. When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written: “Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?” (1 Corinthians 15:53-55)
This Scripture has become especially meaningful to me since my husband Al’s death. This is the Scripture engraved on the back of his headstone. We cannot fully understand what our eternal immortal bodies will be like, but they will be real, with substance, undoubtedly very much like the original bodies God created for Adam and Eve.
For us still living in our physical bodies, this should provide both a sober reminder and great hope.
Our physical bodies matter. What we do with them matters. God cares about them.
And, also, the bodies God has for us in eternity will be far beyond anything we are experiencing now. It will be worth the wait!
Your Turn: How have you thought about your body? Are you being the kind of steward of your body that would please God? Have any of these Biblical truths a new thought for you? Leave a comment below.
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- You believe God cares about your physical body. But what does the Bible say? Why should you care about your body as a Christian? Here are ten points forming a brief Theology of the Body. Tweet that.
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Be a Good Steward of your Physical Wellbeing
For the month of September, we are addressing Physical Wellbeing in our online community, the Fully Alive Group.
Join us to learn more about caring for your physical body when it comes to nutrition, lifestyle, and even hormones, and using your healthcare dollar wisely.
Join us in the Fully Alive Group now!