We've jumped off on a touchpoint and taken a detour through what it means to be human and whether or not our seemingly-natural self-interest is a result of the Fall or if perhaps God created it from the very beginning. I've been building a case that perhaps our self-interest is part of our original design, as it is our self-interest that can lead us to both God-interest and to surrender, which together can lead us to God-love.
Still, I understand that some remain troubled by the notion that there is anything fundamentally human in our relationship with God, even if it seems good.
We have been taught - most of us - that the greatest aim of the Christian faith is to become a spiritual being only. To put aside the flesh and live only in the heart. That our flesh is thoroughly sinful, completely unredeemable, and a hindrance to all that we want to be and accomplish and grow into when it comes to our faith. We have heard sermon after sermon and read book after book and seen story after story about how our flesh is our enemy, usually based on ideas that we take grossly out of context from the New Testament.
But here's the truth: God made us human beings. Before there was a fall, before there was sin, all the way back in the very beginning, God created us with flesh. In fact, He created the flesh first so that He would have a place to put the Spirit. The flesh is a very fundamental part of our holy being. And God called it very good.
This means that we have to stop all of this stuff about being spiritual beings in fleshly bodies, about being somehow trapped in our human nature, about how our bodies hold us back from being everything God intended us to be. Our bodies are not a burden; they are a blessing. (Even when they're broken.) We ought to start treating them as such.
God came to walk with us in the Garden. He came to a place where we would use the feet that He gave us and asked us to use them to walk with Him. He speaks repeatedly in the Old Testament about how frustrating it is when something has eyes, but doesn't see; has ears, but doesn't hear. God gave us both eyes and ears - He wants us to see and to hear! There's a passage in Scripture that says, "Taste and see that the Lord is good." Taste. The Spirit, outside of a body, doesn't taste; it doesn't have taste receptors. Only the body has that.
Our bodies are built to draw us closer to God in a thousand ways that we could never even have imagined. Our bodies were meant to be used by us for faithfulness. Our bodies are God's gift to us so that we can have the fullness of life that He said from the very beginning that He wants us to have.
They are not some kind of Christian escape room. They are not a set of puzzles meant to be figured out so we can finally get out of here. We are meant to embrace what is holy about our flesh. And to do that, we have to honestly consider the things that we learn about ourselves and figure out whether these are holy things or not. Are these God's plans or our brokenness? Is there something good about our design that we are far too quick to dismiss simply because we think it's nothing more than "being human"?
Spoiler alert: God made us human beings. So our fundamental human nature is holy.
Let us not be a people so quick to condemn or desperate to escape. Let us instead be a people thoughtfully invested and sacramentally engaged, that we might discover something beautiful about ourselves that God has wanted us to know all along.
And if we do, there is no doubt in my mind that we will discover something beautiful about Him, too.
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