Monday, August 12, 2013

A New Way of Life

A Devotional by Margot Cioccio

Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies. 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 NIV

Each of us has been given a body that is home to our spirit / soul. When we become followers of Jesus, our bodies become a temple of the Holy Spirit. Our bodies become a place of worship to the God of the Universe. For the Corinthians and many other people of the time our verse was written there was some confusion.  The idea of worshiping the sun god or the rain god or the fertility goddess was practiced by taking an offering to the place of worship and generally included having sex with one of the temple priestesses. This is not the kind of worship that this verse is talking about. In God's way of doing things sex is reserved for the marriage relationship between a man and a woman. In keeping the marriage covenants we have made before God we honor God with our bodies.

There are more ways that we honor God with our bodies.
Paul say "All things are lawful for me, says he, but I will not be brought under the power of any", 1 Cor. 6:12. There was a big deal at the time about weather or not to eat meats and foods that had been sacrificed to idols. Daniel and the boys set a great example by not eating the food from the Kings table as a way to honor God. They we slaves and had no control over how the foods were prepared and what food may or may not have been offered to idols. They decided the safest path for them at that time was to stick to the vegetables and drink water. 

I like what Paul has to say about not being under the power of anythings. There is often controversy between Christians as to weather or not one should partake of alcoholic beverages. I know some believers who see no problem with it - after all Jesus drank wine. The Bible clearly says to not be drunk on wine. Ephesians 5:18 "Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit." One tends to not care when inebriated. It is easier to bypass our conscious at such times and to do things that we may later regret. I suppose the biggest issue for me is that I know a number of people who struggle with alcoholism and I would prefer to pass on drinking rather than to risk causing someone to stumble. I also don't drink often because alcohol is rapidly converted to sugar in the body. I would prefer for my body to burn fats rather than sugars so I try to minimize the sugars in any form that I consume. Thats a whole other subject. The important thing is to follow the Holy Spirit and be aware that someone is always watching - you are a living Bible.

What we do or don't put into our body is another way we can honor God. I believe God wants me to be healthy. When I am healthy I am more apt to be able to have energy to put towards His Kingdom. If you ache and are sick and tired all the time its hard to leave the comfort of your couch. I know many people who just want a magic pill of some sort to solve their health issues. I tend to think we must adopt a lifestyle of learning how to care for our bodies. 

For years the Church was all about developing the spiritual lives of people. I read my bible and and I think God wants us to be whole people. That our spiritual life must mix with our mental and physical life. The three combined make us whole and healthy. Jesus promises that the Holy Spirit will lead us into all truth and I tend to believe that the Holy Spirit will not only help me to be spiritually healthy but mentally and physically healthy as well. More and more I am seeing how each part effects the others. They work together. 

John 10:10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.

3 John 1:2 (NIV)
2 Dear friend, I pray that you may enjoy good health and that all may go well with you, even as your soul is getting along well.

I think we get in trouble and out of balance when we think that following God is only about growing spiritually. Yes Bible study and prayer are important. So is life with your family, and so is taking care of your physical and mental health. I have been bothered by Churches and even Christian Schools who's approach to righteousness is to simply keep you constantly busy with spiritual things so you have no time to sin. I see kids raised in such environments often fall away once they are no longer under their parents or the schools thumb. They have complied but they have not really believed and changed. I hope I'm not stepping on toes.

I see churches do the same kind of thing by having home groups and teachings and meetings every night of the week. I'm all for creating services to meet the needs of people but when spirituality is measured by how much stuff you attend I think we are heading for problems. I have seen too many marriages come to breaking points because with all the stress of the holidays the church also decides to put on a big production that takes hours and hours of rehearsal time. Not that big productions are evil. There are wonderful community and bonding things that happen during such programs. We have to find a balance that is healthy for our whole life and our families. If you are at church every night and the kids are in the nursery or home alone we are sacrificing them on the alter of our over zealous spirituality. Sometimes this comes from feeling like we have to some how be good enough. If we just pray more, and attend more bible studies, or serve more we will tip the balance in our favor. If thats you stop. Jesus fully paid the price - it is not about what you do - it is about what He did.

Finding the balance and learning to be a whole person is something I am pretty passionate about. 
Jesus wants all of you. The good stuff and the ugly stuff. He takes you as you are sinful, broken, confused. Step by step he wants to walk with you through the process of transforming your whole life for His glory. 

Romans 12:1-2 says, “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.”

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