I'd Like to Speak to the Manager - Part 1
Series: My Preaching Bucket List
April 15, 2018
Dr. John Medina knows something of the wonder of the human body. As a genetic engineer at the University of Washington he has observed some startling things: “The average human heart pumps over 1,000 gallons a day, over 55 million gallons in a lifetime. This is enough to fill 13 super tankers. It never sleeps, beating 2.5 billion times in a lifetime.
The lungs contain 1,000 miles of capillaries. The process of exchanging oxygen for carbon dioxide is so complicated that ‘it is more difficult to exchange O2 for CO2 than for a man shot out of a cannon to carve the Lord’s Prayer on the head of a pin as he passes by.’
DNA contains about 2,000 genes per chromosome—1.8 meters of DNA are folded into each cell nucleus. A nucleus is 6 microns long. This is like putting 30 miles of fishing line into a cherry pit. And it isn’t simply stuffed in. It is folded in. If folded one way, the cell becomes a skin cell. If another way, a liver cell, and so forth. To write out the information in one cell would take 300 volumes, each volume 500 pages thick. The human body contains enough DNA that if it were stretched out, it would circle the sun 260 times.
The body uses energy efficiently. If an average adult rides a bike for 1 hour at 10 mph, it uses the amount of energy contained in 3 ounces of carbohydrate. If a car were this efficient with gasoline, it would get 900 miles to the gallon.”
As our modern technology helps us unlock more wonders of God’s creation, I can’t help but think of…
Psalm 139:13–16 (ESV) — 13 For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. 14 I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well. 15 My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth. 16 Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them.
The Psalmist David, even without the aid of science, knew he was “fearfully and wonderfully made.”
The key is “made.” God made us, and if he made us he owns us. Which means that our bodies don’t belong to us but to him. Which means we are stewards of these meat sacks.
Keep all that in mind as we move forward into the NT and the writings of Paul to a community of believers in the ancient city of Corinth. Two of his letters to them have been preserved in the Bible, 1 & 2 Corinthians.
Paul spent quite a bit of time there building up the church and discipling believers, but some time later he got word the church there was riddled with problems.
In his first letter to the Corinthians, Paul addressed those problems the biggest of which was probably sexual immorality. Paul moved from tackling a specific sexual sin in chapter 5 to general sexual sins in chapter 6.
The Corinthians had evidently misinterpreted and then wrongly applied Paul’s teachings on freedom in Christ, turning them into a slogan or a saying, particular to their locale (like “What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas).
Look at …
1 Corinthians 6:12–20 (ESV) — 12 “All things are lawful for me,” but not all things are helpful. “All things are lawful for me,” but I will not be dominated by anything.
The Corinthians had been raised in a culture where the physical and the spiritual were separated, even at odds with each other. That’s why when Paul preached the resurrected Jesus to Greek-thinking people, they had a hard time.
That may be why they took Paul’s teachings on liberty in Christ and twisted them to mean that one could do whatever they wanted with their physical bodies since they were free in Christ and saved spiritually. Hence the saying, “All things are lawful for me.”
Paul reminded them that, though all things were lawful, not all things were helpful, and that those things we give ourselves over to will dominate us if we’re not careful.
They had another saying closely related to the first one…
13 “Food is meant for the stomach and the stomach for food”—and God will destroy both one and the other.
This saying reminds me of some reality show I watched years ago where a young girl who professed to be a Christian justified getting intimate with her boyfriend this way: God wouldn’t give me these desires if he didn’t want me to act on them.
That’s exactly the thinking behind the Corinthian saying. Food is meant for the stomach and the stomach for foods, so eat without restraint, or engage in sex without restraint, or pretty much indulge in any pleasure you so desire. That’s what these things are for after all.
Again, there was a twisting here. God gave all these things to us, intending we enjoy them, but he gave us boundaries concerning them to protect us. One fellow explained it this way…
“Freedom does not mean the absence of constraints or moral absolutes. Suppose a skydiver at 10,000 feet announces to the rest of the group, ‘I'm not using a parachute this time. I want freedom!’
The fact is that a skydiver is constrained by a greater law--the law of gravity. But when the skydiver chooses the ‘constraint’ of the parachute, she is free to enjoy the exhilaration.
God's moral laws act the same way: they restrain, but they are absolutely necessary to enjoy the exhilaration of real freedom.”
Look back to verse 13 where Paul zeroes in on the issue…
The body is not meant for sexual immorality, but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body. 14 And God raised the Lord and will also raise us up by his power.
Paul completely demolished the idea that there is no connection between the physical and the spiritual, that they are in any way at odds with one another. They are, in fact, inextricably linked. What we do physically, affects us spiritually.
Why? Our bodies are for the Lord and the Lord is for our bodies. This whole idea that the physical is bad and the spiritual is good continues to this day. Think about this, had Adam and Eve not fallen, would we be trying to break free from the material world?
These same bodies will be resurrected one day, just like Jesus’s ton dwell in a resurrected, new heavens and earth!
There’s a connection between the physical and the spiritual, between our bodies in this life and the next.
Paul keeps going…
15 Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ?
1 Corinthians 12:12 (ESV) — 12 For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ.
1 Corinthians 12:27 (ESV) — 27 Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it.
There’s a connection between the physical and the spiritual, between our bodies in this life and the next, and our bodies and the body of Christ, which is the church.
Stop and think about what this all means. What we do physically affects us spiritually now and in the future resurrection. What we do with our bodies also impacts the church, the community of faith as a whole.
Paul then came right out and identified the problem…
Shall I then take the members of Christ and make them members of a prostitute? Never! 16 Or do you not know that he who is joined to a prostitute becomes one body with her? For, as it is written, “The two will become one flesh.” 17 But he who is joined to the Lord becomes one spirit with him.
The Corinthians were saved out of a culture that promoted promiscuity. Masters used their female slaves as mistresses, while the wife was reserved for childbearing and running the home. All men were encouraged to participate in cult worship involving prostitutes.
Paul helped them see that, as Christians, they could not continue living that lifestyle, they could not compartmentalize the physical apart from the spiritual. They were and are connected.
So, you can almost hear Paul yell…
18 Flee from sexual immorality. Every other sin a person commits is outside the body, but the sexually immoral person sins against his own body.
Now we get to the crux of the matter for today…
19 Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own,
Now if we are not our own, if we belong to God, then that makes us stewards, managers.
20 for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.
What does Paul mean when he says we were bought with a price? Listen to the apostle Peter…
1 Peter 1:18–19 (ESV) — 18 knowing that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, 19 but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot.
Christ paid our ransom with his own blood. We now belong to him. Ray Stedman comments:
“That is basic Christian truth… ‘You are not your own. You were bought with a price.’ This is something every Christian ought to remember every day of his life. You have no final right to yourself. God has ordained that we should have decisions that we have to make, and only we can make them. He does not take away our right of choice. He does not turn us unto robots and automatons, but, he says, finally we will have to account for the decisions we make. God always reserves the right, because he has bought us, he owns us, we are his by right of creation and of purchase, to send us where he wants us to go… God is glorified when any individual Christian begins to live on that basis: ‘Lord, you are the Lord of my life.’”
If God made us, he owns us. This is doubly so for the Christian since we have been bought with the blood of Christ. Listen to what Paul wrote to the Romans…
Romans 12:1 (ESV) — 1 I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.
Conclusion: Can we all agree this morning that our bodies belong to God? If God owns these bodies but puts them in our care that makes us what? Stewards, managers of them. So if someone said, when it comes to our bodies, I’d like to speak to the manager, who shows up? We do.
That means we must use these bodies, treat these bodies, the way God, the one who owns them, would want us to.
OK, pastor. I get it and I’m good. I’m not doing any of that nasty stuff with my body those Corinthians were doing.
I’m really glad to hear that. But hang on. Paul was applying a bigger truth to a specific situation as it related to a distinct group of Christians. And that truth is, as I’ve already pointed out…
What we do physically affects us spiritually now and in the future resurrection. What we do with our bodies also impacts the church, the community of faith, as a whole.
This certainly applies to what happens in our bedrooms, but I submit it also applies to how healthy we are, to habits we harbor that affect our health, to what we eat or drink, and to how well, generally, we take care of these meat sacks. (Oh, no he didn’t!).
We’ve all gauged our spirituality by whether or not we’ve read our Bibles, prayed, or tithed. But have we ever added to that list getting in 30 minutes of exercise? Staying within a healthy range of calories for the day? Getting our checkup?
One of my greatest regrets is the way I let myself go after going into the ministry. If I were honest, I figured that God was more concerned with the Bible reading, praying, and tithing than He was with me keeping fit. In fact, I used to joke about how our bodies are the temple of God’s Spirit, and my gut was just evidence I was in the middle of a building program (which was really just another way of saying, “The food is for the stomach and the stomach is for food”).
At my worst, I was about 60 pounds overweight. I started having health issues. I was always tired. I never really felt good.
About 7 years ago that all turned around (that’s another story). But since then, I’ve discovered the healthier I am, the more effective I am, the sharper my mind is, the better I feel, which all translates into me being a better Christian, a better pastor, a better preacher, a better dad and husband (though I still have a long way to go in all those areas).
I realize now all those years of letting myself go was, well, a form of sin, because it kept me from giving my best to God.
Let throw in a disclaimer here on what I’m NOT saying. I’m not saying Christians should look like fitness models. There is no rubber stamp for what a healthy person looks like. Thankfully, we’ve discovered that healthy bodies are not determined by our dress or pant size; they come in all shapes and sizes. And I’m not saying if you’re experiencing health issues that make it hard to stay fit and such you are in sin or anything. Don’t read that into this.
However, I know I’m stepping on toes this morning and have touched on a taboo subject in Baptist churches. But if you’re here today and God has convicted you about this in some way, don’t leave defeated or depressed or feeling as if you’re a second class Christian. God never convicts us of our failings without providing comfort and assistance.
We are God’s temples because His Spirit dwells within us. Another name for the Spirit is Comforter and yet another is Helper! Pray about these things knowing God’s grace abounds to you. Let’s all ask God to help us be better stewards of His body.
I’ll close with wise words from a fellow named Tim Challies…
What does God, the owner of your body, expect from you as its steward? He expects that you will present it, steward it, nurture it, and employ it.
God calls you to surrender your body to him, to dedicate it to his service, to commit it to his purposes.
You need to present your body. You are a whole person, your body and soul knit carefully together. …you are to surrender to God all that you are, holding nothing back. Your body belongs to God and is to be used for his purposes. Thus, God calls you to surrender your body to him, to dedicate it to his service, to commit it to his purposes.
You need to steward your body. As you surrender your body, you acknowledge that it does not belong to you but to God. Just as you are responsible to faithfully steward your time and money, you are responsible before God to faithfully steward the body he has assigned to you. You are to use your body wisely, to put your body to use in ways that bring glory to God. After all, “You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body” (1 Corinthians 6:19-20).
You need to nurture your body. There is an inseparable unity between body, mind, and soul. When you neglect your body, you will often find your soul heavy and your mind dark. But when you care for it, you tend to find your soul cheerful and your mind enlightened. You can see some of this in John’s prayer for his friend Gaius: “Beloved, I pray that all may go well with you and that you may be in good health, as it goes well with your soul” (3 John 2). For Gaius to be as active and effective as possible in God’s work, he must have a healthy body and a healthy soul. If you wish to tend to your soul and mind, you must nurture your body. To honor God in all that you are, you must eat well, exercise frequently, and rest regularly.
You need to employ your body. Inner godliness is to be displayed in outward acts of kindness. James shows the unity of faith and works in this illustration: “If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, and one of you says to them, ‘Go in peace, be warmed and filled,’ without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that? So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead” (James 2:15-17). The love of God in your heart is to be displayed by the works of your hands…
Repeat after me:
I am not my own. I was bought with a price. That makes me a steward of this body. Therefore I must glorify God in my body.
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