Skip to content
Feb 7 / Chuck Smith, Jr.

February 5, 2010 – “Present Your Bodies”

The idols of the nations are but silver and gold,
The work of man’s hands.
They have mouths, but they do not speak;
They have eyes, but they do not see;
They have ears, but they do not hear,
Nor is there any breath at all in their mouths.
Those who make them will be like them,
Yes, everyone who trusts in them.
Psalm 135:15-18

INTRO: I want to tell you what I see God doing with “us”

God has each one of us on a spiritual journey
– this describes our progress in God – we grow and develop into spiritual maturity (Ep. 4:11-14)
– what this means is that we become more at peace in Jesus, more content, less angry, and filled more with the fruit of the Spirit (Gal. 5:22-23)

Think of the spiritual journey like a hike in the Sierras – the Spirit is our guide
– the more we advance, the more we will take advantage of better gear and make better use of it
– we are learning about hiking, but also about everything else — weather, trees, plants, animals, stars, etc.

In a similar way, getting training in spiritual disciplines is useful for making progress in our spiritual journey
– these include learning to wait on God in prayer, the sacred reading of scripture, fasting, discernment, solitude, and so on

We are not, all of us, at the same place on the trail – there’s not one standard itinerary
– the Spirit of God meets us where we are and guides us from there
– we discover our own needs and our own inner obstacles
– but everything we learn is useful to every other traveler — we share the journey; we share resources (e.g., good books) and we share our lives – our stories

Through all of this, we are coming to know God better and live more fully to him

Why is it so difficult to keep this focus? (during the week)

In the busyness of our schedule and worries, we lose the meaning of our lives
– when I forget who I am, the course of my life determined by necessity

“Well, I have to get a job,” “I need a place to live,” etc.

– every necessity produces more necessities

“If I have a job, I’ll need a car. If I have a car, I’ll need gas, insurance, and money for repairs”

– as a result, money becomes the dominant theme of my life and I find myself thinking about it all the time
– I put a price tag on everything – “How much would it cost me . . .?”

But if I know who I am, I know that I’m more than my net worth
– or as Jesus said,

“Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing?” (Mt. 6:25)
“a person’s life does not consist of the abundance of his possessions” (Lk. 12:15)

– when I live with meaning, money is irrelevant
– consider the people who have left everything to care for others

To recover (or refresh) our meaning we need to return to beginning

“Let us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness” (Ge. 1:26-30)
– God made us physical beings and placed us in a physical creation

What does this tell us about who we are?

  • We are our bodies
    – early Christian thinkers borrowed an idea from the Greeks – dualism
    – the body belongs to a different universe from soul or spirit
    – the true person was spirit – the body was seen as merely a shell
    – spirituality” was experienced outside body, removed from normal activities of life
    – the was considered an enemy, impediment, or irrelevant
    – that was not the way the body was seen in Hebrew thought, in which the body and soul were one inseparable unit, like sun and light
    – Christian spirituality is physical – we know God in and with the body — every normal activity is opened to God
  • We are more than our bodies
    – we cannot know another person simply by look at his or her physical appearance
    – we have to hear them, listen to their story, observe their life to see into their heart, mind and soul
  • Part of us is the image of God
    – if we emphasize the body so much we lose this, we lose who we are
    – if we emphasize the image so much we lose the body, we forfeit the “goodness” of the experience of this life

But there are other ways we can lose our souls and our bodies

The passage teaches us something we can learn from idols

People tend to make idols in their own image, “They have mouths . . . eyes . . . ears”
– but the idol is always inferior to its maker, “but do not speak . . . see . . . hear”

The first lesson: The wonder of who we are – that we are not idols and we can speak, see, hear, and do all these wonderful things
– also tells us something about body parts we’ll be looking at closer
– attention is not drawn to the physical organ, limb, or part, but to its function – and not just its physiological function, but rather it’s sociological and psychological functions
– the mouth functions in speech and breath; the eyes function in sight; the ears function in hearing
– to us, these look like different categories of things
– to the psalmist, these different ways of representing aspects of the same, one whole person
– body parts provided them a way to look at the whole person from certain angles
– in the prayers of the psalmists, any one part can represent the whole person

The second lesson: (we learn from idols) Those who make idols become like them
– silent, sightless, deaf, without breath – lifeless – dead
– this happens when our brains become cluttered and overactive
– we stop seeing, hearing, breathing

  • We eat, but don’t taste our food
  • We play our favorite songs, but don’t listen to them
  • We live near the ocean, but never walk the shore barefoot

Our idols are killing us
– they are blinding us to a world that is filled with God’s glory

The negative influence of Greek philosophy gave rise to asceticism
– monks abused their bodies with severe fasting, sleeping on stone, cold floors, etc.
At least their objective was a life that was filled with God
– we abuse ours with over-indulgence, stress, lack of sleep, neglect

The Bible teaches us to treat the body as gift, as mystery, as sacred

CONC: For next few weeks – “Present Your Bodies”

In the weeks ahead, we will get to know our bodies as revealed in scripture
– that is, we will know our bodies spiritually

Our bodies are constantly receiving and processing information
– about our external environment and our internal state
– we can focus attention on one particular piece of information

There are many benefits of creating a practice of doing this regularly
– but my concern is the spiritual benefit of waking up and becoming mindful
– we can train our senses to be alive to God

But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you. (Ro. 8:11)
Even so consider yourselves to be dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus. (Ro. 6:11)

Normal Christian spirituality is not supernatural or miracle
– it is practical and present in every act we perform – religious or mundane
– we don’t have to feel cut off from God when we go to work — in fact, we need to stop dividing our lives in that way

Fr. Romuald, “Pay attention to what you’re doing every moment, because God can break in anywhere–while you’re [on the computer, weeding in the garden, brushing your teeth] or preaching your best sermon. God truly does not care at what point he enters or what you’re doing at the time.”

I am assigning you some homework for this week: Set aside five minutes to look at your hands
– it’s okay if you notice them while your at work, typing on a keyboard, pounding nails, shuffling papers
– pray with your hands – and notice what God places in them
– then pray with your arms, legs, feet, neck, and shoulders

Pay more attention to feelings and sensations
– think of each part of your body as a tool for the spiritual journey
– and begin to present every activity to God as prayer and worship

Leave a comment