Body by God
God gave Adam a responsibility, “take care of my stuff.” (translation is mine) The implication is that to “care for” means according to the standards of the owner. A babysitter cares for the children using the rules and values of the parent. An employee follows the company manual to direct their behaviors and actions. An athlete listens to the Coaches instructions and follows his or her directions to accomplish the team’s goals. Wherever we are, there is some form of intended standard to govern a caretaker’s responsibility.
In Baptism we are given the same instructions. Whispered from the water of eternal life are the instructions to “take care of my stuff.” What stuff? To begin, each person must take care of his or her body. Good health and responsible living are a responsibility of the Baptized. You will probably point out that all humans need to take care of their body. And you are right. But God’s care is unique.
When the Holy Spirit begins to dwell within the newly Baptized, the body becomes a dwelling place for God. Before, the best one can say in justification of good health is, “I want to live longer,” “I like to look good,” “I will feel better.” Consider this, once you enter into the Kingdom of God, you no longer live for “I.” You now belong to God. You are His child, you are His responsibility, you are His servant. As His dwelling place, your motivation shifts from “I” to “He.” Now the justification for good health is, “God lives here,” “God works through me,” “God has a plan for me,” so our response is to work for Him and not against Him.
Of course, we are less than perfect in our pursuit of good health. We enjoy many foods that are not the best for us. Exercise is hard work and takes time. It is easier to pursue immediate gratification then aim for long term faithfulness to God. Fortunately, the forgiveness of Christ delivered through the indwelling Holy Spirit overcomes our failings and restores us.
Why is the body so important to God? Because he created it. And He sustains it. And He redeems it. And He will come back to raise it from the dead. It is easy in this culture to loose sight of God’s big picture. He has made us to live with Him for eternity. We often only focus on the here and now and are motivated by earthly benefits. God wants us to focus on the future and be motivated by heavenly benefits.
Jesus will return and raise us from the dead. That is His promise. So, for today we can begin to live as though this reality is present now. Our stewardship to care for the body He comes for, is our response in thanksgiving for a plan greater than we imagine.