As a college volleyball coach working within a department is named Health and Human Performance, I am daily surrounded by the philosophy that our bodies can be used to glorify God. In fact, we quite often make this “glorify you, Lord” statement in our volleyball pre-practice and pre-match prayers. Our men’s and women’s volleyball programs have a Biblical premise that we ought to live the summarized law presented by Jesus, which is to love God and love our neighbors (Mark 12:28-31). What does this mean to love God with our bodies and glorify Him in all respects (Col 1:9-12)? How can we love God with our bodies?
For many years, I have been appreciative of one verse in Luke where it describes that Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith (Heb 12:2), grew in wisdom and stature and also grew in favor with God and with men (Luke 2:52). For me, that simply means that the physician Luke is describing Jesus’ transition from a boy into a man through his mental (wisdom), physical (stature), spiritual, and social development (favor with God and men)… though I fully admit that I’m puzzled how Jesus could grow spiritually (or in favor with God).
I believe God has called us to a full life of stewardship in all areas areas of our lives and development. Our bodies are a temple of the holy spirit and we were bought with a price (1 Cor 6:19-20). The price purchased for our bodies was the body of Jesus. He loved us and gave His body as a sacrifice for us. In turn, we are called to give our bodies as living sacrifices for God (Romans 12:1). But what does this mean?
I’d like to offer some practical and tangible measures of how we can love God with our body (in no particular order):
1. “Umm, Daddy?”: There is only one moment I admit that hearing my daughter call me “Daddy” is less than exciting… that is in the middle of the night when I am stirring from deep sleep. My internal struggle is either to seek a quick solution mumbling incoherent phrases from a restful position or to continue to awaken, arise, and assist the needs of my daughter. Though these occurrences are sparse, I am aware of the rest needed for my physical body and also the needs of my daughter. Both of us will get better rest if I attend to the situation, and that gives me further peace through the disturbance.
2. Working out or wimping out: The apostle Paul uses an example of running, boxing, and taming the body for the purposes of demonstrating perseverance and diligence toward evangelism (1 Cor 9:24-27). Most people can identify with sport and exercise, which helps Paul’s point to endure through the ages. Paul describes himself as “disciplining his body to bring it into subjection” so that he can be a good example to those he is preaching to. My one exhortation here is for each of us to evaluate how we can better preach the gospel to others through our own bodily self-discipline. To cave into continual fleshly indulgence is quite the opposite picture from what Paul preaches.
3. Be careful what you eat: 1 Cor 8:8-13 talks about eating food that makes another person stumble in their conviction about that food. Could we consider being sensitive of others as more important than our own gratification in the areas of food and drink? In Matt 6:16-18, Jesus gives instructions about fasting and making one’s appearance seem normal through the fast.
4. Heart of service: For us to present our bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, our hands and feet need to be active. Our ears need to listen well before we react in anger or speech (James 1:19).
5. Shout to the Lord: Psalm 100:1-2 speaks of making a joyful noise to the Lord and coming before Him with singing. “But I don’t have a great voice” or “no one will want to hear me sing” are simply excuses thrown back in the face of the one who created you. Stop it! Sing a new song! Make up a praise song. Shout to the Lord! Your voice was put there by Him and He only wants to hear praises flow from it. Personally, I struggled with hitting a note or maintaining the proper key during most church songs while I was in high school. During my college years, I was exposed to a wonderful singing church that revealed the depth and richness of the four voice parts of a hymn and showed me that I needed to choose whether I was a tenor or bass (even though I’d prefer that the songs were written for a baritone voice). Through years of praising God with my singing, I am much more aware of my voice and the notes changing in a hymn, so the richness of each hymn has become greater for me.
6. Want to talk about it?: The Great Commission in Matt 28:19 speaks of going to all the nations and making disciples. We are required to share our faith with words. We are required to proclaim the name of Jesus to anyone who will listen. “But I don’t know how to do it or what to say.” Simply put, you start with humility and honesty and prayer. Feel free to begin by asking questions about the person or their faith. The more you practice these conversations, the better your gospel presentation will go.
What other tasks and abilities do our bodies have that can glorify God?
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Very thoughtful approach to “staying in shape” across the spectrum of our human experience. Thank-you!