I’m on my way back from The Calgary Reformed Conference where I gave three addresses on A Practical Theology of the Body. I also led a Youth Group discussion on the subject and left with them ten words to ponder when thinking about their bodies.
1. Study: God has revealed truth about the body in His Word and in His World (through science). In order to thrive physically, learn what you can from these sources and also by observing your own body’s strengths and weaknesses.
2. Exercise: Bodily exercise does profit – not as much as spiritual exercise but a little is more than nothing (1 Tim. 4:8). In order to serve God well, you need to work to keep your body in good health.
3. Fuel: Just as you take care to put the right kind and amount of gas in your car, do the same with the food and drink you put into your body. This is a stewardship issue with your most valuable resource. Remember the value that God put on your body (1 Cor. 6:20).
4. Rest: God made you to flourish best by working six days and resting a seventh. He also made you to thrive by sleeping. You really can Sleep Your Way to Success.
5. Protect: As the believer’s body is the temple of the Holy Spirit (1 Cor. 6:19), you should care for it better than you would your own home or even the White House. Defend your body by avoiding substances that damage it and experiences that can deface, injure, or even kill.
6. Submit: Although we should do #1-5, we must also accept that our fallen bodies are never going to be ideal or perfect. We must therefore submit to the unique and wise way God has designed us and accept our limitations, weaknesses, sicknesses, aging, etc.
7. Cover: God did not only make your body, he also made clothes to cover it for your own protection and also that of others (Gen. 3:21). And remember there are no prizes for covering in such a way that more is revealed than concealed. But neither is there a prize for covering with the ugliest fabrics, colors and designs.
8. Control: Your body has been imbalanced by sin and can easily take good passions for beauty, sex, strength, food, etc. and turn them into destructive lusts and obsessional desires. Be aware of your own particular weaknesses and take care not to fuel them so that they become your tyrannical master (1 Cor. 6:12)
9. Dedicate: Your body is from God and for God. “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service” (Romans 12:1).
10. Worship: Remember that Jesus took a real human nature, including a complete body with all its weaknesses and limitations (apart from sin). He also laid down that body to suffer and die for sinners like you, so that He could say, “This is my body, broken for you. Take, eat, in remembrance of me.”
What other words would you add?
Any books you would recommend on the subject for this age group? There are some good chapters in Matthew Lee Anderson’s book Earthen Vessels: Why Our Bodies Matter To Our Faith, but I don’t think it’s very suitable for this age group.