BODY FOR GOD
January 13, 2002
Before we get started, let’s bow for a word of prayer together.
Father, you have brought each of us here for a dynamic reason and that reason is to hear your truth and your word. I thank you now for life. I thank you especially for our physical bodies. Father, hammer into our spirits and our hearts your truth about this vital subject. For we voice this prayer in the name of Jesus Christ, our living Lord, amen.
This is the time of year when we are bombarded by those infomercials, those talking heads promising us that being buff and beautiful is just one toll-free number away. These glassy-eyed fitness gurus say if you will just buy my supplements or my exercise equipment, then physical nirvana could be a reality to you. These infomercials are pretty convincing. They are complete with teary testimonials, before and after pictures – the total package. I love those infomercials and I am sure a lot of the products and supplements work.
This is also the time of year when a lot of us make New Year’s resolutions. We make resolutions like, “I am going to work out every day in 2002.”
Or, “This next year, I am only going to eat chocolate three times.”
How many of you have made wacky New Year’s resolutions, resolutions that you know in your heart of hearts you can’t keep? I have before. We have all done that.
I am sure that when many of you heard what was on the docket today, that we are embarking on this brand new series, Body for God, some of you thought to yourselves, “What in the world are we doing talking about a physical matter in church? What in the world are we doing talking about the body? Isn’t that kind of vain?”
No. The body is big in God’s economy. The body is important in his work. If it was just for vanity reasons, believe me, I would not waste your time and mine talking about it. However, a lot of people, and I am talking about a lot of people who go by the label of Christian, have no idea, they are clueless, concerning how important our bodies are.
Sadly, we have let Cosmopolitan, Glamour, GQ, Muscle & Fitness, Seventeen, Vogue and Vanity Fair and all those magazines set the stage for the body, as opposed to allowing scripture to set the stage for the body. Most Americans are body conscious. I believe the church should be even more body conscious than the world. We should take the lead concerning what God created. So, we should not be ashamed to talk about what God was not ashamed to create.
Having said all of that, I want to share a story with you that occurred at a very important juncture in my development. When I was fifteen, I began to learn how to drive an automobile. My father attempted the impossible. He tried to teach me how to drive. It was pretty humorous because after about two or three sessions, he finally threw up his hands and said, “Ed, I cannot do this. I don’t have enough patience to teach you how to drive. I am going to have to bring in an expert to show you how to drive a car.”
A couple of days later, I was in my backyard shooting baskets and I saw a white car pull up in our driveway. I looked and on the front of the car it said, “Tony Sellers Easy Method Driving Training School.” A guy hopped out with a starched jumpsuit on. He had little horn-rimmed glasses on. His hair was slicked back. He had “Tony” embroidered on his jumpsuit, a big clipboard in his hand and he said, “Ed? Edwin Barry Young?”
I said, “Yes, I’m Ed.”
He said, “Very nice to meet you. I am Tony Sellers with the Easy Driving Method and your Dad told me to take care of you. So, please get in the car.”
I remember jumping in this car with this weird little guy named Tony Sellers.
The first thing Tony Sellers said was, “Ed, seat belt and make sure your
hands are always at ten and two, ten and two.”
I said, “Yes, sir.”
We began to drive around the neighborhood.
Tony said, “Ed, have you ever driven on the freeway before?”
I said, “No.”
He said, “Let’s go for it.”
So, we hit the freeway. Tony was kind of calm, cool and collected for the most part. He would say, “Accelerate, accelerate, accelerate.” Then I would accelerate and merge into the traffic. I was driving along.
He said, “Now, Ed, we are going to change lanes. I want you to change lanes so put your blinker on, look in your rearview mirror, your side mirror and then just ease over.”
So, I did that. While I was easing over, I didn’t realize it, but a car was in my blind spot. I didn’t know what a blind spot was. I almost ran this guy off the road. This guy was giving me all kinds of obscene gestures in the next car.
Tony said, “Ed, what are you thinking? The blind spot, the blind spot. There is a blind spot in the car. There is a blind spot everywhere. Yes, you look in the rearview mirror. Yes, you check your side mirrors. But Ed, always take your head and look back.”
Blind spots cause a lot of injuries and fatalities, don’t they?
I believe the Christian community has a glaring, big honking blind spot when it comes to physical authenticity. For far too long, we have just emphasized sins against the body. We have emphasized the eternal quality of the soul and all that stuff. That’s fine and dandy and good, but we have not talked about the importance of the body.
I grew up in church. I cut my teeth on the pews of Southern Baptist churches. I think the first time I ever remember even recognizing my name was when one of my teachers spelled my name with macaroni in Vacation Bible School. I grew up in church. But I have never heard a series of teaching from a platform or pulpit in any church about the importance of the body. But at Fellowship, we are going to change this, because I have been blown away at how many references and how many times our bodies are talked about in the Bible.
We have this blind spot. We have to call it what it is. We have just been looking at the rearview mirror and side mirrors and we have missed physical authenticity. So, before we talk about diet, exercise or how we use our bodies, we have to develop a Biblical, theological view of our bodies.
Created By God
Right up front, let’s talk about bodyology. Why do our bodies matter to God? Why are they big? Why are they important? The first reason our bodies are important is found in the book of Genesis. Before we look at Genesis, Chapter 2, Verse 7, just listen to me for a second. Genesis, Chapter 2, talks about God creating. God is a creative being and God created everything. When he created the world, check this out, he spoke things into existence. He just spoke. He said, “Let there be light.” There was light. So, he spoke everything into existence. Except in Genesis 2:7, we find God doing something unique. We find God really getting involved. We find God sort of rolling up his sleeves when he is creating man. Check out how he made man in Genesis 2:7, “the LORD God formed the man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being.”
He took the dust and then he breathed life into him. So we have a little bit of earth in us and a little bit of heaven in us. God did more than just speak us into existence. He really got involved.
Then the Bible continues and it says that God made woman. I personally think that man was kind of the rough draft and woman was the upgraded perfect model. That’s just my opinion on the subject.
Look at Psalm 139. Here we have David talking about the fact that our bodies are handcrafted by God. We are no fluke of evolution. The best technology that we could muster up right now pales in comparison to our human bodies.
Here is what David said in Psalm 139:13-14, “For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.”
What’s the first thing that we are talking about today? What’s the first demonstration of why our bodies are so big in God’s economy? God, himself, fashioned them. God, himself, created us. That is the first reason we need to download into our spirits that should cause us to worship God. A major reason why we should take care of our bodies is because God fashioned them himself.
Worn By God
Let’s talk about a second demonstration of the importance of our bodies and why we should hold the body in such high esteem.
As I get into this, let me tell you another little story. I have been pastor of Fellowship Church for twelve years. Our church is officially about twelve years old on February 18th of this year. Prior to that, I worked in a church down south in Houston, which happens to be the number one fattest city in America. Did you see that? Houston, Texas. That’s a whole other subject.
Let me get back to the point. I was Chaplain of the Houston Astros baseball team for several years. That in itself is kind of funny because I don’t know that much about baseball. I admire baseball players, but baseball has never really done it for me. I don’t mind going out to the ballpark at Arlington and eating some junk food every now and then to watch the guys play. But it is just not my deal.
Anyway, while I was Chaplain of the Astros, I had to do the chapel service, a kind of worship service, for the Astros. Then I would go to the opposing team’s clubhouse and do a chapel service for them. I did this game after game. One time, I was in the Astros’ clubhouse and had done a talk on something, and one of their perennial all-star players looked at me and said, “Ed, come here a second, man.”
Usually, when those guys who are that big say to come here, you just say, “Okay.” So, I walked over to him.
He says, “Ed, I’ve got this pretty big contract with Nike and I’ve got a bunch of shoes. I want to give you a couple of pair of my game cleats.”
He gave me these two boxes of game cleats. He had worn these cleats a little bit but not much. They were embroidered with Nike and all this cool stuff. I was thinking to myself, “What am I going to do with these cleats?” They were not that big of a deal to me. I tried to be appreciative and said, “Man, thank you very much. I really appreciate the game cleats.”
I went home and thought some more about what I was going to do with those cleats.
Lisa said, “Ed, why don’t you use them to mow the lawn?”
I said, “Perfect.”
They were the best lawn shoes you have ever seen. I could turn on a dime. I kind of wanted to slide instinctively across our yard.
But I had an extra pair of these authentic game shoes this all-star player had worn. I thought, “What will I do with the other pair?”
Then I thought, “I’ve got it. I can give it to my friend who loves baseball. I can give these cleats to him.”
One day, he was at my house and I said, “I want to give you something. These are the game cleats worn by (and I named the all-star player), and I want to give them to you.”
This guy almost started crying; he was so excited.
“Ed, are you sure you don’t want them?”
“Ed, this is incredible. Thank you so much. These are real game cleats. They have dirt on them and there is an Astroturf stain. These could be valuable. I just thank you so much.”
Why was the guy freaking out? Why was the guy wigging? I’ll tell you why. Because someone in his eyes, who was very valuable, wore the cleats. Our bodies matter to God because someone very valuable wore them. Someone wore our cleats and his name is Jesus.
Here is what the Bible says about him in John 1:14, “The word, (that’s Jesus) became flesh and made his dwelling among us.”
Jesus put flesh on, he donned the flesh, and that dignifies your body and mine. We had seven Christmas services right here at Fellowship Church and we celebrated the incarnation of Christ, the fact that God walked down the staircase of heaven with a baby in his arms, the fact that Jesus was born in an ordinary piece of farm furniture in a manger, the fact that Jesus walked and talked, that he had flesh and a bone structure, and a heart, lungs and a brain. He wore skin and that dignifies your body and mine.
The first demonstration of why my body matters is the fact that God fashioned them. The second demonstration of why my body matters is that Jesus wore one. He wore one and that is huge.
Indwelt By God
There is another demonstration of why our bodies matter. Let’s go to 1 Corinthians 6:19-20, “Do you not know that your body is a temple 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 body.”
The theme of this entire series is wrapped up in that five-word phrase, “Honor God with your body.” Let’s say that together. Honor God with your body. This is radical stuff here.
Go back to Verse 19, “Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit?” That’s huge. In the Old Testament, the writers talked about God being in the house, in the temple, in the tabernacle. That’s where he hung out.
In the New Testament, we have the writer saying something weird. The New Testament writer said that God is not in the house anymore. God is out of the house. Now we have 1 Corinthians, Chapter 6, saying that God is in your house. What is going on here? The writer is saying that we are housing for the Holy Spirit of God. Our bodies matter because they are housing for the Holy Spirit. That’s the third demonstration of why our bodies matter to God.
In the Old Testament, God was in the house. In the New Testament, God was out of the house. The New Testament finally comes along and says that you are the house. We are the dwelling place of the Holy Spirit of God.
A while back, I went to Israel with a bunch of people here at Fellowship Church. We would love to go back now, but we can’t because of all the bombs and bullets. But one day, hopefully, we will. If you have never gone to Israel, it is the trip of a lifetime. I will never forget when Lisa and I toured the Church of the Nativity. That’s the church in Bethlehem built over the spot where many people think that Christ was born. There is a little area there that they believe was the place where Jesus came into this world. He was just there two or three hours and one of the most expensive churches in the world is built over this spot. Isn’t that amazing? It really is.
Jesus is not just passing through your life or mine. He is not just spending two or three hours there. Once we invite him into our lives, he takes residence. He infiltrates our lives. He places the person of the Holy Spirit down in the depths of our soul. Because of that, we should not trash the temple. Because of that, our bodies matter. They are huge. They are important.
We can’t play this dichotomization game where we separate the spirit, the soul and the body. They are together. We are going to talk about Gnosticism in this series. I don’t want to get into it right now, but that was very prevalent in Biblical times. It is also very prevalent in today’s culture. They had a whacked out view of the body. But this view is also big time right here in our culture today.
I have not seen the movie, Vanilla Sky. I would not lower myself to see it. But I have seen some previews. Have you seen that famous line uttered in the previews? Have you seen it and heard it? Let me read it, “Don’t you know that when you sleep with someone, your body makes a promise to them, whether you do or not?”
That’s an incredible line. See, we try to separate our body from our soul. We say, “Our soul is what matters. My soul is here and my soul is there, but what I do with my body doesn’t really matter.”
When you have sex outside the marriage bed, your body is making a commitment, a promise, with the person, whether you do or not. Have you ever wondered why there is such sexual chaos in the world? That’s it. Most people don’t realize it. People don’t realize that their bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit. Yet, they are becoming one flesh with this person, one flesh with that person, one flesh with another person, through sexual intercourse. It’s wrong. We are trashing God’s temple. Sex is reserved for the marriage bed. One man, one woman, committed together in covenant before God. Our temples matter. We can’t trash the temple.
God is concerned about what I do with my body, what I put into my body, how I treat my body, what I do with my body, the places I take my body. We will talk about that during this series. And don’t see Vanilla Sky. Don’t waste your money on it.
Resurrected by God
God fashioned our body. Jesus wore one. They are housing for the Holy Spirit. There is another reason why our bodies matter to God. This one is concerning the afterlife.
A lot of people ask me questions and I love the questions. One of the most prolific questions that people ask me goes something like this, “Ed, what will our bodies look like when we get to heaven?”
People ask me that all the time. Usually, I give them this deep, theological answer. I say, “Would you please take out your palm pilot, or pad and pen, and I will tell you what our bodies will look like in heaven. Are you ready? Here it is: I don’t know.”
Because we don’t really know specifically. Let me dissect a verse a little bit and talk to you about our bodies. 1 Corinthians 15:40, “There are also heavenly bodies and there are earthly bodies; but the splendor of the heavenly bodies is one kind, and the splendor of the earthly bodies is another.”
The fourth demonstration of why our bodies matter is the fact that our bodies will be resurrected. Our flesh means something in this life, on this side of the grave, and it also means something on the other side of the grave as well. We will have, check this out now, new and improved bodies.
I want you to write down a couple of things about our resurrected bodies. I would love to go into this whole subject matter, but that is a whole other series. The first one is this: Our bodies will not wear out or grow old. Isn’t that great? The Bible says that there will be no sign of aging. You have got to like that.
I want to apologize to all the plastic surgeons in here, but you will not have that occupation in heaven. We won’t need plastic surgery.
Also, the Bible says, and I don’t have time to give you the reference points, but we will have the ultimate eternal look forever and ever. Just take the peak of beauty, something we can’t even comprehend. We will look like that forever and ever.
So, number two, we will have a brightness and a radiance surrounding us. The word “splendor” in 1 Corinthians 15:40 means brightness or radiance. So when we are walking around, we will have this radiance, this wow about us. We will be able to recognize each other. We will have bodies. What they will look like, I can’t really tell you. We can dissect it later, but we don’t really know for sure.
But our bodies matter on this side of the grave and the other. Because our bodies will be resurrected, they matter. So, think about your body. Think about this engineering model. God fashioned it. Christ wore one. It’s housing for the Holy Spirit. Our bodies will be resurrected. That is why they mean so much.
Romans says that our bodies matter. It says that our bodies, as we live, can and should be an act and expression of our love to God, an act of worship. Here is what it says in Romans 12:1, “Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship.”
This text says that it is a spiritual thing. Even though we are talking about the body, it is a spiritual thing. A lot of us have hang-ups over our body. Some of us worship our body. Some of us have problems with food, anorexia, and bulimia. Others don’t like the way our bodies look. Others struggle with discipline. We struggle with all of these areas. We are going to talk about these things over the ensuing weeks.
I want you to remember something based on Romans 12:1. We don’t use worship for our bodies. We use our bodies, the Bible says, for worship. Thus, we should give the best act of worship, the best body possible, back to God. It is my prayer that we erase this blind spot, that we see it, recognize it, so that we can become the people that God wants us to become.