Sacred 4-Letter Words: BODY

Pastor Terry Tatum

If you’ve been to church with us recently or read any of our recent blog posts, you know that we’re in the middle of a sermon series titled Sacred Four-Letter Words. We’ve looked at the words: Holy, Self, Full, Pure, Mind, and Will.

What has stood out to me during this series is how these words may have different meanings, but they are ALL important when it comes to our spiritual life. It seems like every week my mind changes on which word is the key in our walk with God, but I’ve come to the conclusion that ALL of these words are vital to our relationship with God and they all come together to shape who we really are. In this post I’ll be discussing the sacred four-letter word we call BODY.

As I was preparing this message, I started thinking about the fact that my body has changed a lot over the years, particularly since I started working for Craig Carter, our lead pastor. Here are my before and after pictures:

As you can see from the pics, a lot of us struggle with our bodies. We might struggle with the way we look or what we put into our bodies (drugs, food, etc.) or maybe we’ve never even thought about what God wants us to do with our bodies.

In this message I want to share three examples of how BODY is a Sacred Four-Letter Word, and what the Bible says about what God wants us to do with our bodies. First, there is our…

1) Created Body

We live in a culture that worships the body. Seriously. Did you know the plastic surgery industry generates more than $65 billion in the U.S. each year?

This is not an anti-plastic surgery message, so don’t take it that way please! But my point is this: The majority of those surgeries are performed because people aren’t happy with their body image.

Our society tells us we have to weigh this much, be this tall, look like So and So Supermodel, doesn’t it?

I bet you didn’t know that only 5 percent of people in the U.S. have the “ideal body type” for their age and gender? I happen to be one of them. It’s called “Dad body.”

If only 5 percent have the idea body type, that means 95 percent have a body type that isn’t ideal… according to society. What??

Please listen to this … write it down or highlight if you need to:

God made you. He gave you gifts and abilities that are unique to you. You are perfectly made in His eyes.

A lot of us are trying to be who the world says we should be and not who God says we are. Not everyone can be the smartest, or the most talented, or the prettiest, but you can be who God created YOU to be.

Most of you know the creation story from Genesis. God created the world and then He created man from the dust of the ground and woman from the rib of the man. Think about that, you were created by God. The master of the universe created you.

In the creation story the word “good” is used seven times. The Bible says that not only did God create you and everything around you, He said it was “good.” Seven times he said that.

You were created by God and you are good, no matter what anyone ever says.

The Apostle Paul says, “Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God?” (1 Corinthians 6:19a NIV)

Do you know what the temple was in scripture? It was a holy place, a place set apart by God to be something magnificent that honored Him. It was the place that housed the “Holy of Holies,” where the spirit of God dwelled. And scripture says YOUR BODY is a temple.

In the Old Testament there really isn’t a good translation for the word “temple.” It simply meant “God’s House.” A misconception a lot of people make is they think the church building is God’s House. But in reality, WE are God’s House.

Our church building is very special. It is a gift from God, but it isn’t God’s temple or His house. We are God’s temple. Our physical bodies are temples. It’s the only body you’ll ever have and we are called to treat it like a temple.

Truthfully, I had to learn this the hard way. On the 1st Sunday of October in 2008, I started serving my first church. I was 31, had a ton of energy and weighed 200 pounds. At the time I was working a full-time job (50-60hrs/week), umpiring baseball games, and serving a church “part time”. (Note: the only thing part time about it was the pay!)

In addition to my three jobs I also had a wife and a 5-year-old son and there weren’t enough hours in the day for everything. I found myself skipping meals and then becoming so hungry I would pound a double cheeseburger and a Dr. Pepper or whatever I could get my hands on and then get after it again. I poured all my energy into everything I was doing. I really felt like giving my all to all those things was how I should honor God with my body. After all He gave all of these opportunities, surely it would have been a sin to turn them down?

A couple of years later I found myself at my doctor’s office with chest pains. I thought I was going to have a heart attack, and it was completely stress related. But even after that scare I didn’t change. I kept going and I steadily gained five pounds a year for the next 10 years.

I didn’t have an off switch back then. I was either wide open or unconscious.

Now I had read my Bible and I knew my body with a temple, yet I destroyed it and I live with the consequences every day. I’m a Type 2 diabetic. If you don’t take anything else away from this message, I hope you will start to treat your body like the temple it is. It’s the only body you’ll ever have.

That brings me to a second example from the Bible about honoring God with our bodies. It involves our…

2) Related Body

The Bible makes it clear that we are relational beings and we need each other. There are many examples in Scripture about what our physical relationships should look like. One example is marriage.

The Church is often referred to as the “Bride of Christ.” Most of the time I don’t think we make the proper connection between being the “Bride of Christ,” and what that means as an example for our marriages. In a marriage we belong to each other, just as we belong to Christ and he belongs to us. We are called to be faithful to Christ through the good and the bad, in sickness and in health.

The Bible tells us that in marriage “… a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.” (Ephesians 5:31 NIV) That means the most intimate physical connection known to humankind is reserved for marriage. If we find the person God has for us to marry, this is where we are to unite with them … and nowhere else.

The marriage covenant is where we are also to “be fruitful and multiply.” Somewhere along the way we have misunderstood or disregarded the biblical model for marriage, and I believe that has led to a misunderstanding of our relationship with Christ. We don’t get to be married just when we feel like it. We don’t get to be Christians only when it’s convenient. We are to be faithful and committed in marriage for the rest of our lives and to be faithful and committed to Christ forever.

As I alluded to earlier, God made us male and female. He made for each other, to live in a self-giving, self-sacrificing manner. Ephesians 5 lays out how this should look, but sadly this is misunderstood as well. Are you familiar with this verse from Ephesians 5:22? “Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord.”

Evidently many of my male friends have read that and can’t understand why their wives won’t do what they tell them. It’s probably because verse 22 isn’t the only verse in the passage … you have to read it in its context! At the end of this chapter you’ll read this, “However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband”. (Ephesians 5:33 NIV)

Marriage is for a man and a woman and it is a two-way street. If more husbands loved their wives as much as they loved themselves, you would see more wives willing to submit and respect their husbands.

Ladies, if your husband was truly trying to serve and love God, wouldn’t that make you want to love and support him? Men, if your wife was loving, supportive and respectful, wouldn’t that make you want to be the husband the Bible says you should be?

Giving yourself to one another is what it’s all about. Give yourself fully to your spouse and to Christ. If God hasn’t called you to be married, give yourself fully to Christ. Selflessness is the example we see from Christ in Scripture and selflessness is what the Bride of Christ (the Church) is supposed to exemplify.

The reason I’m harping so much on marriage and what the Bible says we should do is because scripture puts a premium on this relationship. The Bible begins and ends with marriage. From Adam and Eve in Genesis to the marriage supper of the Lamb in Revelation 19 where Christ is eternally wed to his church. Marriage is how we are supposed to relate to one another and it is how we are to relate to Christ.

The final example of how BODY is a Sacred Four-Letter Word is found in our …

3) Sacramental Body

Another way to define sacraments is “sacred moments.” Although there are lots of sacred moments in our lives, there are only two things Jesus specifically commands His followers to do: partake in Holy Communion and be baptized.

Jesus said at the last Supper to “do this in remembrance of me.” He also told His disciples right before he ascended into Heaven to “Go and baptize all nations in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.” Does anything related to today’s message stand out about those two sacraments?

Here’s the connection: You participate in both of them with your BODY. God’s chosen vessel to participate in the most sacred moments is YOU!

You see, there is a proper way to participate in the sacraments. There is a proper way God wants us to do things. But the truth is it’s the way we live and use our bodies that honors God. Rule following is not how we honor God.

God doesn’t just throw down a bunch of rules for us to follow and tell us things we can’t do. He wants us to live and use our bodies to experience all the goodness and love He has for us. Two ways He does that are through Communion and baptism.

The communion ritual we use is beautiful. During this sacrament we confess to God and we have a chance to recommit ourselves to Him. Specifically, “when we eat this bread and drink this wine, we proclaim the Lord’s death until He comes again.” It’s us celebrating the life, death and resurrection of Christ. It’s, as a church family, when we come together to proclaim the mystery of faith – “Christ has died, Christ has risen, Christ will come again.” We celebrate this and proclaim this mystery with our God-created temples, our bodies.

We also do this in the sacrament of baptism. Once we accept Jesus as our Lord and Savior, we are to tell the world about that commitment. It’s like putting on a wedding ring and being married to Christ. By telling the world about Christ through our baptism, He marks us as His.

We celebrate life, salvation, marriage and our relationship with Christ with our bodies. Your body is the only body you’ll ever have. It was created by God and it is a temple, a holy place, God’s house.  The Spirit of God dwells there and it’s a place to keep sacred.

Be careful with what you do with your body. Be ever mindful of what you put into your body. Why? Earlier I shared with you a verse form 1 Corinthians, “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…” (1 Corinthians 6:19a NIV). I was trying to illustrate that you were created by God and your body was a holy place, where the Holy Spirit dwells. But I left off the rest of that statement, verse 20: “… you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body.”

All these great things I’ve been telling you about your body come straight from Scripture and are as true as they can be. But don’t ever forget, “you were bought at a price.”  God created you and He sent His Son to die just for you.

I know some of you have done things with your bodies that make them seem less than holy, but regardless, “you were bought at a price.” That price was the blood of Christ, and his blood can make you clean and holy again. Believe it and from this day forward, I urge you to treat your body as the holy temple of God that He designed it to be.