It’s time to get physical…

step out of the shadows

Okay, let’s get one thing straight: this has nothing to do with shame. Guilt and Shame are not the identical twins from Hell; they’re often mistaken for one another, but it’s a doppelgänger deal. Shame attacks your identity as irreversibly flawed; it’s a prime tool in the arsenal of the Evil One. Guilt is different: it addresses what you do and is imminently fixable for Christians. Shame is bad; guilt is good, if it points us toward self-improvement (through Holy Spirit conviction) and better choices.

We’re coming up on one year since the first lockdowns occurred. Back then, it was the Wuhan Virus (since then, the bug – and the Communist Party – mounted a massive public relations campaign and did a rebranding deal, to CV-19), and it locked most of us in our homes for the better part of 2020. The result: lots of time margin, and 10+ pounds of “new you” to show from working from home.

Then… yesterday. Based on a Google study of most-searched foods going into last weekend – by state – here’s what probably took you down another notch. New York, Connecticut, New Jersey, Kansas, Missouri and Wisconsin: Buffalo Chicken Dip. Washington, Utah, Arizona and Louisiana: 7 Layer Dip. Texas: Chocolate Chip Cookies. Minnesota: Chex Mix. Massachusetts, Tennessee and Colorado: Chili. Idaho and Nevada: Birria Tacos. Virginia and Oklahoma: Charcuterie Board. California: Cheeseburger Sliders. If you weren’t feeling guilty before Super Bowl, you’re probably still riding the Calorie Bus into overload territory today. What are you going to do about it?

For the next four Mondays, we’re focusing on Jesus’ own fitness strategy, leading into his personal three-year Pro Season. At 30, He went public – across the Promised Land – with his primary message as the Messiah: the Gospel of the Kingdom (e.g. Matthew 4:23). What were the disciplines He used to get ready for that high-demand time, when His Calling would be His only focus?

Here it is, blunt and brief: “And Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man” (Luke 2:52). Body, mind, soul and spirit were the four dimensions of His preparation for the mission that changed history. For Jesus, from age 12 – when the Joseph and Mary family returned from Egypt to Nazareth – to His great Reveal at the Jordan baptism at age 30, that self-emphasis ran parallel with His family and work life in that tiny rural village in the upper Galilee region.

Here’s an intriguing observation: people with no knowledge of God through the redemption arranged by the Lord Jesus are likely to regard their bodies – and their manageable physical condition – an important aspect of life. In stark contrast, Christians often see little or no correlation between their eternal life in Christ and their current life in their mortal body. For the Child of God, does the way we regard and maintain our physical self matter to God?

That isn’t a question left to speculation: Paul made it clear: “Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies” (1 Corinthians 6:19-20).

Before your conversion, you needed no permission to misuse and abuse your body; it was yours to treat as you saw fit. Most of the behavioral habits that fast-track disease and death – chemical and behavioral addictions, unbounded intimacy outside a committed marital relationship, sloth, gluttony – run counter to biblical principles. Our actions in life don’t win salvation, nor can they negate the work of the Savior. The real question: does the way we abuse – or preserve – our body matter to God?

The simple fact: God bought you – and everything about you – at the Cross, and He is now the Owner in residence in your body. Wherever you go, whatever you see, whoever you’re with, whatever you eat/drink/do alone or with others: He’s right there with you. Others are watching, as is He.

Knowing that generates guilt for you, or glory for Him. How should that impact your actions?

Bob Shank

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