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Your Body is a Temple

Sometime early in my high school athletic career, I overheard two seniors talking to each other in the weight room while they were doing preacher curls (throwback!). As the last reps were completed, they did what most guys do after a big set of curls, they flexed and stared at themselves in the mirrors which covered the walls. In the midst of their mutual admiration, I heard one say to the other, “The body is a temple.” For the next 23 years, I lived with the belief that the physique of our body should be worth worshipping. Whether that’s standing over the scale dominating our weight or someone else liking a photo on our feed and commenting on how good we look, the body was made to be worshipped. Then, like so many things in life, one day I discovered this phrase was actually from the Bible. Huh? How could that be? Why would God want us to worship our chiseled abs? It occurred to me I had it wrong. Our bodies are temples, but they are not made to be worshipped, they are made to worship.

Before we get to the whole temple thing, I need to make sure we’re on the same page when it comes to the body. This is where my thinking was off to begin with. Our bodies are not just physical. Yes, we are bones and muscles and skin and yet we are so much more. Our bodies are also spiritual. When God formed humanity, Scripture says He breathed into their nostrils the breath of life. To see your body only as a physical temple is to almost not see it at all. Just think about how short term the satisfaction is that comes from physical achievements. It’s all very temporary. There’s a deeper longing inside us for something more, and that something is spiritual. Your body is both a physical and spiritual temple.

So, what’s the temple reference all about? It’s about Jesus. See, before He came to earth, God’s people worshipped God at a physical temple. They made sacrifices through the priests and had fellowship with God’s Spirit at the actual temple itself. Jesus changed all that. His ultimate sacrifice for us meant no longer did God’s people need to go to a temple to experience His presence. Instead, Jesus offered us a new way – the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is a gift given to followers of Jesus, and it is this Spirit which lives inside us. The temple reference has much more to do with our spiritual nature than our physical one. Now that the Spirit of God dwells in us, we become a functional temple. We have access to God everywhere we go. But we also carry the responsibility of honoring God with our bodies. The guys in the field house weren’t completely wrong, but to fully honor God with your body, you must honor Him with your spiritual body as well.

The great news is fitness is the journey for both! While the exercises may differ, the process is the same. Fitness, physical or spiritual, is a result of the load, recovery, adaptation cycle. Our pursuit to bring glory to God means we must train both. Just like you don’t get physically fit from one workout a week, you’ll never become spiritually fit just going to church on Sunday. It’s insufficient on its own for the journey. The reason most people never become fit is because it requires discipline, sacrifice, and suffering, and most people don’t pursue these in their physical or spiritual lives.

But you’re not most people! You’re active in a community of physical fitness. You’re either active or exploring a community of spiritual fitness. You are learning how to apply discipline, sacrifice, and suffering to your life and you’re seeing some results. Remember the journey has no end here on earth. And just like when your house is super clean, as you honor God more with your physical and spiritual bodies, you’ll began to notice the little things that still need to change. Even though the changes may be smaller or more subtle over time, they have the power to produce phenomenal results. You’ll see what I mean. Just stay engaged with your community and the next time someone says the body is a temple, you’ll know just how much that really means.

Questions for Reflection:

Does the idea of the Spirit of God dwelling inside you make you want to live your life differently?

In what ways do you honor God with your body? In what ways could you?

Of discipline, sacrifice, or suffering, which do you most embrace? Which do you most avoid?

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