LentBlog 2015, Day 36: The Fullness of God Dwells Bodily.

Colossians 2:6-15, NRSV

As you therefore have received Christ Jesus the Lord, continue to live your lives[b] in him, rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving.

See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the universe,[c] and not according to Christ. For in him the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily,10 and you have come to fullness in him, who is the head of every ruler and authority. 11 In him also you were circumcised with a spiritual circumcision,[d] by putting off the body of the flesh in the circumcision of Christ; 12 when you were buried with him in baptism, you were also raised with him through faith in the power of God, who raised him from the dead. 13 And when you were dead in trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God[e] made you[f] alive together with him, when he forgave us all our trespasses,14 erasing the record that stood against us with its legal demands. He set this aside, nailing it to the cross. 15 He disarmed[g] the rulers and authorities and made a public example of them, triumphing over them in it.


Our old “friend” Gnosticism is back, except it’s most decidedly not our friend. See, there was this idea that God is totally spirit. That flesh, and matter, and earthly stuff is evil. That the way to really get to God was to overcome all this lowly, earthly, fleshly stuff and get “in the spirit” or something, because that’s where God is, and that’s where God calls us.  On the surface, it doesn’t sound so bad, right? I mean, doesn’t God want us to get beyond this fallen earth with all its troubles? Isn’t heaven a place where our spirits can finally be free of these earthly bodies and become truly one with God?  Isn’t God going to destroy the earth anyway? Aren’t we to worship “in the Spirit,” meaning we’ve got to get our eyes off this stuff and lift them up? Isn’t “up” where God is?

The problem with all that kind of thinking is that in Christ, God most decidedly does not remain “up.” He does not remain totally “spirit.” In Christ, “the fullness of deity dwells bodily.” Bodily. Like, bodily. God isn’t “up.” God, in Christ, is with us. God became one of us. And he did it so he can redeem, transform and reconcile all this earthly “stuff.” This is the heart of the incarnation and atonement in Jesus. Christ was fully God and fully human.

Remember that the next time some ignorant worship leader prompts you to set aside your context, your struggles, and the week you’ve had, and get “in the spirit,” so you can “truly” worship God.

Blessings,

Mark

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LentBlog 2015, Day 31: The incarnational, reconciling, upside-down, way of Jesus.

Colossians 1:18-20 NRSV:

18 He is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, so that he might come to have first place in everything. 19 For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, 20 and through him God was pleased to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, by making peace through the blood of his cross.


So much in these three verses. The profound incarnational statement of verse 19. The idea that in Christ all things, whether on earth or in heaven, are reconciled. (This of course means that Jesus’ goal isn’t just to save our disembodied souls or something… salvation is cosmic… everything gets to be redeemed. Take that, Gnosticism.)

Then the upside-down way God makes peace… not through power, superior strength, or show of force, but through the cross.

Worth thinking about, y’all.

Blessings,

Mark

LentBlog ’14 Day 15: The Body Plan.

1 Corinthians 6:12-30.

For a moment when I read this passage tonight I wasn’t sure what to write except the obvious… “Don’t commit sexual sin.”

And then a strong reminder hit me, so here we go.

May I just say, at the risk of offending, perhaps, I become slightly annoyed whenever I hear any version of the phrase “…saving souls?” Christ came to save souls. The church is to help save souls. How many souls were saved, etc…

One thing passages like this (and indeed the whole of Scripture) teaches us about salvation is that it’s not just our souls that Christ came to save. Salvationthe church, the sacraments, the Christian life, resurrection, and eternal life are not limited to our disembodied souls or something. It for certain includes all of ourselves, which includes our bodies.Image

I’ll never forget Dr. Darius Salter, a professor we had at Nazarene Theological Seminary, who said, “God has always had one plan for redeeming the world: the Body plan. That’s plan “A.” And there is no plan “B.” I think we sometimes forget this and lapse into a sort of Gnosticism when we talk only of the salvation of our souls.

This passage in 1 Corinthians is one of the zillions of passages that emphatically states our physical bodies are part of the salvation God has for us. “Our bodies are members of Christ…” “Your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you…” Notice he did NOT say, “Our spirits are members of Christ.” He says shun fornication because sinning in this way is sinning against the body. This whole passage is about Paul’s insistence that the members of the church at Corinth honor God with their bodies. One of the things that means is avoiding sexual sin.

Something to think about… What would it mean to honor God with our physical bodies? Obviously it would mean not doing certain things, but my mind takes it a bit further. I wonder what it would mean for me to proactively do certain things to honor God with my physical body. After all, the Creed says “we believe in the resurrection of the body.” The big deal about the incarnation of Jesus is he was fully God and fully human, which included his body.

Not sure I’ve got many answers to this one yet, but I feel in my bones this might be leading to at least asking some of the right questions…

Blessings,

Mark