Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Cleansing the Temple

"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; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body."
1 Cor. 6: 19 & 20

I had a check up at the doctor's yesterday morning. I hadn't gone in about 5 years. (Yeah, I know..."Shame on me.") The visit pretty much confirmed stuff I had already known. However, there was one surprise for me.

I'll break it down for you: 1) I need to lose about 20lbs or more. 2) I am verging on having high blood pressure. 3) I have another hernia. 4) I need to get a colonoscopy...and that just sounds like so much fun.

(Here's the thing; I didn't do myself an favors before the exam. I ate fried chicken, or the like, every night before the exam. In fact, the day before I began my exam-fast, I ate two Burger King Whopper Jrs. & two small fries. So I think the blood pressure reflected that.)

The hernia caught me off-guard though. I mean, I have already had two! (Is this becoming a hobby?) Plus, my appendix exploded years ago, too. I told the doctor to just install a zipper across my waste for easier access.

If you would like to know what it was like for me in the office, just watch this.

That was for you, Mark. (Good memories from Trout Lake camp.)

OK, in all seriousness. I needed to hear all of that to get me off my butt. You don't hear much from the pulpit about health, but I believe more and more that pastors ought to speak about these kinds of things. There is a connection between the Spiritual and the Physical. When God created everything, He blessed it and said it was "Good." In fact, when He created people, He said it was "Very good." Since then, sin has corrupted creation. But that doesn't mean that we don't have responsibilities for it and for ourselves.

I used to be in pretty darn good shape. In fact, when I lived in Israel, I worked out 5 days a week and was as close to a Sexy Beast as someone with my looks could get. I weighed 208lbs, could bench over 300lbs, and little birds would build nests under my pecs to find shade. Now I weigh 208lbs again, (207lbs after the fiber did it's job this morning) but it ain't muscle.

SO, here is the plan: 1) No meat at all for 5 weeks. 2) I will be very conscious of my salt intake. (Which is really freaky, once you start noticing that.) 3) I will be the King of Fiber during this time. 4) I will get on that exercise bike and GO! My intention is to cleanse my temple inside & out.

I'm not sure how close you will want to stand next to me while I'm eating all this fiber, but I really do want to take this seriously. In fact, I think I'll post my weight at the end of every post for the next 5 weeks. You guys need to keep my accountable, OK. (Listen, if I am expected to wear my thong down at Lake Calhoun this summer, this is the only way it's gonna happen.)

Some Thoughts on the Body:
1) What is the perfect body type? Well, most marketing agencies aim for the A&F body type like the photo at the top of this post. However, there are maybe 1 in 10 people that are actually born with the ability to achieve that ideal. They make their money by convincing young folks that this is what they should aspire to. That can be a mighty cruel thing to put into a teenager's head.

Everyone is born with the DNA for a unique body type. For myself, I was born with the body structure of a Mountain Gorilla. I have short thighs and long arms. Even when I was in my absolute best shape, I still couldn't achieve a 6-pack. (But I could casually pull your head off and use it as a volley ball if I so desired after you mocked me about it. :P )

I had a friend in Israel that had such a high metabolism that he had to eat like a cow and work out 3 times as much as me to get any muscle at all. So, no one should kick themselves because they can't achieve some mythical ideal.

I like to point out to some of the teens that I have worked with a passage from 1 Samuel 16. Essentially, God is looking for a new king to replace Saul, who was continually messing up. He sends Sam the Prophet over to Bethlehem to find Jesse's family. Sam takes one look at the oldest boy in the family, who apparently was "Mr. Stud," and assumes that this is the one God is choosing. Then God says something very beautiful to Sam in verse 7; "Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. YHWH does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but YHWH looks at the heart."

Who does God choose? The youngest boy in the family...who wasn't even invited to meet Sam initially. Most scholars figure that this runt was about 14 years of age. No lie, some scholars even think that he was a Red Head. YUK! (Don't punch me Zach.) This is David, the greatest king that Israel ever had. What mattered was that Davy was a man/kid after "God's own heart." That was what mattered to God...not the fluffy outside stuff. So keep that in mind the next time you don't feel so good about your lack of physical perfection.

2) Going Greek: The church in the west has allowed a huge degree of Greco-Roman thought to influence it's worldview and how we view Scripture. It's true. We have a view deep in our sub-conscience that all things physical are in some way bad, that creation is bad, etc. The point of becoming a Christian is to get a ticket out of here to a better place. Spirit is where it is at, in other words. (Maybe that is why Evangelicals are the largest segment in the U.S. to dismiss any type of global climate problems or the need for Creation Care.)

Go back and crack open your copy of Plato's Republic. In it, Socrates describes this life as essentially being stuck in cave, facing a wall. There is a fire behind you, and someone is standing behind it doing a shadow puppet show for you. Socrates said that our reality is simply viewing these shadows. What our ultimate goal is, is to escape the cave all together. In other words, we need to escape from the body and the physical world altogether. The spirit world was where we needed to get to, because the physical realm was bad.

If you think I am joking, check out Acts 17, where Paul speaks to the various philosophers at Mars Hill in Athens. In verse 32 it says, "When they heard about the resurrection of the dead, some of them sneered." The Greeks didn't want a bodily resurrection. "Icky! Physical is bad, bad, bad." And much of the church in the west has the same thoughts in many ways.

Problem is, the Bible wasn't written by Greeks. It was written by Jews, with a jewish mind set and world view. The Jews took very seriously that all of creation was good precisely because God had created it and said it was good. It's true that creation suffered from the Fall of Man, but that hardly means that trees & dirt are sinful. I find it fascinating that the last two chapters of the Bible parallel the first two chapters of the Bible. You find that the Bible ends just as it begins. God redeems creation, and then hangs out with people just like he did in the beginning.

So, your body is not a bad thing. In fact, it is a beautiful thing precisely because it was made in the image of God. Wether you are a Believer or not, God's image is still there rolling around inside somewhere waiting for you to acknowledge it and repent.

Cleaning House.
Paul speaks about a Believer's body being the Temple of the Holy Spirit, and that because of it we ought to engage in certain practices and not in others. I would like to see more pastors preach some very practical Life Style sermons on this. Right now our country is debating the whole health care situation with it's ever rising costs. As I understand it, we are #1 when it comes to the cost of health care, but only around 34th-36th when it comes to quality. Ouch! Also, apparently 1 out of every 3 people born since 2000 will develop type 2 Diabetes by the time they are 30.

If you haven't seen the movie "Supersize Me," I highly recommend it. It's plenty gross, but has amazing information it it. Essentially, Morgan Spurlock, the director, eats nothing but McDonald's for 30 days straight...breakfast, lunch & dinner. He documents everything that happens to his body. If you haven't seen it, treat yourself to this clip.

Now, it is not that everyone is chowing down at McDonald's everyday. But Americans have notoriously bad eating habits & diets. These habits are going to do massive damage to the federal budget.

From a very practical point of view, wouldn't it be a tremendous witness to Outsiders if the church began to talk about this and offer biblical principles to live by to encourage better health? Some churches do, but not enough I would argue.

For myself, I need to stop being a hypocrite and set an example. Perhaps I should print up a T-shirt that says, "Eat fiber for Jesus." In my last post I joke about radical religious protestors holding signs outside McDonald's that said "God hates Fattys." I don't think that would be a very positive approach. But all of this is something worth thinking about.

If my body is to be a temple for the spirit of God, then perhaps I should clean it up & out, and treat it with a bit more respect.

Hold me accountable, kids.



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