Making Our Bodies Allies For Growing Up

In last week’s post, I said this, “Our bodies need to be a part of our transformation and we need to make a way for all of these parts of ourselves to respond in ways that are honoring to God and draws us closer to Him and continues to bless others and do what Christ wants done.”

This week, I would like to discuss some practical steps to allow God to transform our bodies so that it is more ready to do right rather than wrong. We have to remember that we are not capable of perfection so our bodies will be some of the most obvious demonstrations of our fallen nature but we can make progress and that progress can be significant.

FIrst, we simply have to surrender our body to God. We know full well what our body is capable of and a mere thought of trying to do better is not enough. As a Christian, you have surrendered your heart to God and that is a glorious thing but the goal now is for the transformation that has started in your heart to reach even your fingertips, your tongue, and your feet. To do this, it may require you to be intentional about turning all of your body parts over to God.

Dallas Willard suggests that you lie on the floor and formally surrender each of the main parts of the body. He says, “What you want to do is ask God to take charge of your body and each part, to fill it with his life and use it for his purposes.”

Second, we make worship a bodily thing. I come from a Christian tradition that is not prone to raise hands, dance in the aisles, or even enjoy standing while worshiping. So, I am not asking you to change your worship personality but great good can be gained by finding small ways to be more bodily active in your worship, even if it is in the privacy of your own home. I have read the psalms and tried to act them out. I pray better while walking so I find ways to walk more. 

One of the reasons I joined the church I am at is because they take communion every week and the entire congregation makes their way to the front of the worship center to receive the bread and dip it in the cup. I love the physicality of this practice and the chance to bodily participate as a group is very powerful.

Third, find spiritual practices that require some kind of bodily restraint – like Sabbath and fasting. The practice of Sabbath, weekly time where we stop straining and instead rest, play, and worship, reminds us that our bodies are not machines and were never created to act like machines. In Sabbath, God is our focus rather than what our body needs to be frantically doing next. Fasting, the abstaining from food, is a surrender of our bodily cravings so that we can learn to crave God’s spiritual nourishment and break the “vice grip” that our stomachs and body can hold over us.

The point of all of this is not to add to our Christian list of to-dos but to allow God’s action in our lives to transform even our body, an area that many feel they have little control over. 

Choose one or all three of these steps to begin developing a body that is a living sacrifice and is holy and pleasing to God.

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