Saturday, June 26, 2010

The Role of the Body in Christianity

What place does our body have in Christianity?  Many feel that true spirituality involves a kind of denial of, or even leaving of, our bodies.  These days it is difficult for many to imagine that we will be reunited with our bodies after death.  What would be the point?  

Our bodies keep us in the present moment, the only "place" in which we can truly meet God. Our bodies were given to us by God to unite the mind and heart in a kind of "eternal now" where God exists. God told Moses, "Tell the people I AM sent me to you." God is not "I was."  God is not "I will be."  God is I AM.  God is only in the "now".

The only reality is God.  God is in this present moment because He operates outside of time. God exists in eternity.  Eternity is not some nebulous "place" in the future.  Eternity is now, because we exist now, and we will continue to exist, with God, forever.  If we do not strive for oneness with God in this life, we will not be able to be joyous with Him forever in the next.

What keeps us from this unity with our Creator? Our minds, by definition, keep us either in the past (depression) or in the future (worry).  Our mind has a difficult time even seeing that there *is* a "present moment", because it is busy doing what it does best, planning and calculating, hence, the anxiety, worry, and second guessing that plague us as we live our lives.   

When we abuse our body, it is often in an effort to run away from the "now" where it resides, in a useless effort to solve the mind's incessant cry for solutions to its endless supply of worrisome and unrealistic problems. Only God resides in the "now".  Let us ask the Holy Spirit to breathe Wisdom into our bodies as we try to stay in the moment and find God, who is the only and eternal reality. 

Hat tip to Bread & Water, Wine & Oil by Archimandrite Meletios Webber.    

6 comments:

TACParent said...

That is a very interesting (and true) way to look at things. When we stay in the "past" we have risk of depression. When we jump to the future we risk worry. It is hard to stay in the present and I think we miss so much because of that. Btw, is this the book you asked for for your birthday?

Dymphna said...

You're right. We do miss so much--all of life, in fact, when we stay in the past or worry about the future. In fact, we miss God altogether that way.

Yes, this is the book you got me--thanks!!!

evanscove said...

The ancient heresy of gnosticism taught that matter (and therefore the body) was evil, whereas spirit was good. Christians, however, must reject such a view; God declared his creation good, even though it became marred by sin. And God is working toward a restoration, "a new heaven and a new earth." I've read that in the Hebrews' thinking, mind, body, and spirit were not to artificially compartmentalized. Rather, they had a holistic perspective of the human being.

And as an anxiety disorder sufferer, I can vouch for what you said about our minds keeping us from having peace. A big part of what keeps me bound is the tendency to obsess about the past or fret about the future. I miss out on the present so often.... and the present is all we have. The mind can be like a bucking bronco. Not an easy thing to tame!

Evan

Dymphna said...

Exactly! The present is all we have. It is where God is.

Barbara said...

Thanks so much for this post. Since I've been so ill, I can hardly wait for eternity when I will eventually after the Second Coming get a perfect body. In the meantime, illness brings me closer to God because I realize how dependent I am on Him. It does take a lot to live in the present moment, a lot of practice and a lot of failure, but working at it does have its rewards.

Dymphna said...

I'm sorry to hear you are ill, Barbara!

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"Slavery ended in medieval Europe only because the church extended its sacraments to all slaves and then managed to impose a ban on the enslavement of Christians (and of Jews). Within the context of medieval Europe, that prohibition was effectively a rule of universal abolition. "— Rodney Stark

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