Excerpts From Chapter 5 – “Cherish Being Human”
Jesus lived a life of faith connected to God. He never drifted away from this anchor. Being human and living in the human body did not separate Jesus from God. Being human put Jesus right where God wanted him to be, to do the work God wanted him to do. Jesus’ ministry included preaching to the crowds, teaching his followers, and healing people whose bodies failed them – in order to show God’s power at work. He healed the lame people, deaf people, blind people, demon-possessed people, even dead people. Jesus cared about bodies because he cared about the whole person in relationship to God. Living a life of faith in the body is not just for Jesus. God wants this for all of us. This is the core of being human.
God’s grace comes to us in physical, visceral ways. The gospel writers give us gruesome detail of the physical experience of Jesus sacrificing himself so that we can have peace with God. Soldiers slammed nails through his hands and feet, ripping through skin, tendon, muscle, and bone. They smashed a crown of thorns into his head. They stabbed a spear into his side and bodily fluids poured out. Jesus died on that rugged cross. Jesus did not simply think in his mind, ‘I’ll save those these humans who lost their way,’ and then suddenly everything was okay. He agonized about the experience so profoundly that he was sweating blood and praying for a way out. But he went through with it, suffering in his body because humans are created body–and–spirit.
Three days later, God raised Jesus from the dead in his body. The resurrection was not only spiritual; it was physical. The tomb was empty because the body was no longer dead. Hundreds of people saw Jesus. He spoke to his disciples. He invited Thomas to touch him. He made a fire and cooked breakfast on the beach. He took a walk with Peter for a private conversation. All of this was bodily. New Testament writers herald that we, too, will experience the resurrection at the end of time period we may not know all the details of how the body will be transformed or when exactly this will happen, but we know that we will have bodies going into eternity with God. God does not say, “I made a mistake with this body business. Let’s just worry about the spirit.” Over and over, the Bible tells us God values the body and comes to us in our experience with the body.
Live Life to The Full
Our bodies disappoint us. We can have no doubt about that. Even apart from dangerous behaviors or accidents, bodies break. They grow cells they should not grow. Organs fail. Sometimes bodies hurt and we don’t ever know why. We live with chronic illness, even suffering that seems as though it should be unbearable. Loved ones die while we hold their hands and cool their foreheads and give them one last kiss.
But none of this means that the body is not at the heart of how we know God. Jesus lived in connection to God without separating body from spirit. He understood that his life had purpose and meaning – precisely through his physical experience, not in spite of it. The apostle Paul calls Jesus’ death “God’s abundant provision of grace” Romans 5:17. Jesus himself said he came so we can “Have life, have it to the full.” John 10:10
Jesus brings life to body and spirit. God means for us to cherish the nature of being human in body and spirit. Through it all, we are connected to God, who calls us to live a life of faith in him through the body, just as Jesus did. When John Wesley shocked people, it was because he saw wellness of the body as part of how we respond to God’s call on our life. Rather than pushing the body aside in your understanding of what it means to live a full life, embrace it. See from Jesus’ example what it means to be human and intimately connected to God.
In this chapter Morris reminds us that Jesus had a physical body that was connected to his spiritual self and of the importance of caring for the body. He also reminds us that part of living life well–to the fullest–means that we are to care for the body that God has given us. Morris reminds us that someday the bodies that we have on this earth will grow tired and eventually give up. Then, sometime in the future, our bodies will be resurrected to be with Jesus in heaven. That’s a beautiful truth.
During this Holy Week, as we remember what Jesus experienced for our freedom and life, let’s also be mindful, as followers of Christ, of the importance that our physical health is to doing the will of God.
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