What good is a body?
Hey, rather than chastising it for what it can no longer do, rebuking it for the extra pounds it holds onto or its irritating tendency to forget where you put your keys, perhaps we can pause for a moment to look with kinder eyes.
- allows me to see
- allows me to smell
- allows me to hear
- allows me to taste
- allows me to touch
- makes me aware of what touches it
- takes me places.
- lets me experience things.
My body also allows me to:
- think, plan, decide and act
- feel, emote, respond and react
- know what I am thinking
- be aware of what I am doing
- be aware of how I am feeling
- monitor my movement in real time.
My body receives its surroundings with little or no direction or guidance from its guardian except as we may be free to place ourselves in a circumstance or focus our particular attention. The me that resides “inside” this body — let’s call it the identity or perhaps the soul — is merely apprised, on a need to know basis. That I am a moving part of, and an active participant in, a world that was here before I was here and will be here after I am no longer here is really quite a happenstance. And a quandary.
Why this fragile casing? Why this awkward packaging? And why for just this lifetime? Something about the purpose of my life requires the body I am in. In order for me to operate to full capacity, the Giver of Life made me this way, and thankfully, seems to be continually engaged in its remodeling and refurbishing.
How can I know this? By the testimony of my senses, the reasoning of my mind and its awareness of my responses. God made us receive-and-respond devices. In this way, we learn, and by our participation, we grow.
How can we be sure we are on the right track? This is an essential question, because much in our world feels like its trying to steer us off track. Fortunately, we’ve been offered instruction regarding how to stay the course. In the words of the Great Commandment:
“… the Lord our God, the Lord is one; you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ The second is this, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” (Mark 12:29-31)
But how can we know a God we don’t see? How do we love a God we can’t touch? If we are meant to know and love this God, then we need an accessible, tangible, real-life way to accomplish it. God activates this in our lives by giving us physical bodies which are made to move. These are not just earthly tents or useful containers but also a means of God’s revelation, a temple of the Holy Spirit, and a sanctuary of the living God.
This means we have to tune into our bodies — heart, soul, mind and strength — with care, diligence and resolve. Make no mistake: this is a dangerous mission. Because today’s world can hurt, and being vulnerable to those hurts can be painful indeed. But while it may be tempting to turn away from or anesthetize ourselves against the need and the hurt, we mustn’t.
Seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting, touching, and being developing an awareness of places, people and experiences, along with thinking, feeling, responding, and learning to perceive my actions and movements in real time is a risk worth taking. Because there’s revelation going on. Let us let God remind us that we are uniquely created and wonderfully made. Thus, we are made to move in God’s direction, at God’s command, by God’s initiative, and at God’s pace. All of this is for our own good and for the good of our neighbors, all of our neighbors. After all, we are all receive-and-respond beings.
As we enter this Advent season, let us journey back to the manger and allow the child born in Bethlehem be born again in us. May the Christ child remind us of the love that created us, the love that would love nothing more than to bring us to abundant life.
This blog series will share excerpts and updates from Made to Move: Knowing and Loving God Through Our Bodies. You can order your copy from The Upper Room, on Amazon or through your local book retailer.