“Don’t you realize that your body is a sacred place, the place of the Holy Spirit? Don’t you see that you can’t live however you please; squandering what God paid such a high price for? The physical part of you is not some piece of property belonging to the spiritual part of you. God owns the whole works. So let people see God in and through your body.” (1 Corinthians 6:19-20)
Last evening a group of us gathered to watch the movie, “The Way.” This film was the inspiration for our Lent sermon series. We have looked at some of the ways in which we encounter the living Christ and how we find our way, with God’s help, around the many challenges and obstacles that try to stop us. As we watched the movie again last night I was thinking about how this series is really about transformation. As we each move along whatever path we are travelling, God seeks to transform us from the person we have become into the person we were created to be. This is not an easy task – even for God!
Recently my doctor sent me to see a nutritionist who recommended changes in my diet and encouraged me to begin a long-neglected program of regular exercise. It seems that I had forgotten who my body actually belongs to and I had not been very faithful about keeping the place up. Without be-laboring the metaphor…my “temple” was in bad need of some “urban renewal.”
So, I set about the task of changing my diet I started keeping track of everything I put inside in effort to transform the outside. (“You are what you eat.”) I joined a health club where professionals can guide and monitor my progress and help me reach my goal of being a healthier person. Then I changed my routine so that I could go to the gym every morning before coming to church. Now I am on my way! Except…
I like all that stuff that isn’t good for me – temptation lurks around every corner! I much prefer sleeping to getting up early and driving across town so I can sweat for an hour or so…The bed is warm; outside is not! I am no longer twenty years old and body parts do not want to stretch or bend or lift or move the way they used to…This is most frustrating of all! Along this way I have eaten the wrong things, I have slept in a time or three, and I have experienced new pains that are not at all pleasant. But I keep going because I know that, in the end, I will have remodeled this temple into something I am not ashamed for God to visit.
All of this is to say that each one of us is on some type of journey toward transformation. I don’t know what your particular circumstances are; I don’t know if your journey is a way to a fit temple or a more friendly disposition or a less angry attitude. You may be on your way to overcoming an addiction or rebuilding a relationship with your family. You may be going through grief or you may be on your way back to God after a long time away.
The point is that you will be tempted to stray from your path and find an easier way. You will be discouraged and want to pull the covers over your head and give up. You will be forced to stretch your spiritual and emotional muscles in new ways that are often painful. Keep going! Realize that God is standing at the end of your path with open arms ready to welcome you home. Jesus is walking with you all along the way to help you overcome the obstacles. The Holy Spirit is whispering encouragement and hope in your ear. The way really is worth it because the transformation is worth it. You are worth the effort. Amen.
Grace and peace,