Pastor, Is Your Temple Well?
Surely, you have preached the sermon and taught the message innumerable times and likely, in just as many venues. Yet, are you living what you say? Do you really recognize and live as if your body is the temple?
Understanding the Biblical Body
First Corinthians clearly teaches that the human bodies of Christians become the temple of the Holy Spirit upon regeneration and conversion (1 Corinthians 3:16-17; 6:19-20).1 The apostle Paul describes the intense necessity of taking care of the human body and the connection between physical wellness and spiritual wellness: “For you were bought with a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s” (1 Corinthians 6:20). Because the temple is where God dwells, the body is intrinsically holy and must not be defiled.2 Taking care of the body becomes an issue of Christian stewardship and responsibility.3 “This concept has little to do with external glorification of the physical body and much more to do with glorifying our marvelous Creator through our choices.4 Defiling the body through lack of physical exercise, poor diets, and other missing factors of wellness is inevitably dishonoring to God and increases the difficulties of presenting that body as a “living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service” (Romans 12:1-2). The Life Application New Testament Commentary notes:
The words “your body” in this verse refer not to the corporate body of Christ, but to each believer’s individual, physical body. Each believer should view his or her body as a “temple of the Holy Spirit,” who is living in them. Jesus Christ died to pay the high price that purchased sinful people’s freedom (Ephesians 1:7; 1 Peter 1:18-19). His blood provided the sacrifice that made believers acceptable to God. Because of Jesus’ death and resurrection, the Holy Spirit came to indwell those who believed in him, he took up residence in their bodies. This Holy Spirit had come when they believed. Believers, therefore, do not belong to themselves. God bought them, so they must honor God with their bodies. They must “honor God” by showing their gratefulness for Jesus’ sacrifice by their worship, obedience, and service (see Romans 12:1-2).5
The Human Body and The Believers' Body
In her book The Undivided Soul, subtitled Helping Congregations Connect Body and Spirit, Cheryl A. Kirk-Duggan writes:
Our physicality allows us to exist and be together in community, as opposed to
being disembodied souls. The body is an extraordinary creation that serves us well
when we take care of it. This divinely given instrument is a temple, a sacred house
of worship, which we tend to take for granted and minimize its elegance, power,
possibility, and nobility.6
Similarly, Mel Lawrenz notes the necessity of viewing integration between the physical and the spiritual:
Just as the body’s growth includes a knitting together of different kinds of tissues, spiritual growth involves the coordination of all of our inner faculties-our thinking, feeling, and willing.7
Obviously, the body through which Christians live serve as a vivid reminder of spiritual growth principles. However, one must be careful to render the body non-spiritual and disregard the temporary address of ministry. If the body is disregarded, how can one truly function with the goal of excellence for the King?
Consistency. Are you living a lie? Perhaps you are portraying "do as I say, not as I do"? Ministerial integrity encompasses the whole of the call, not only publicly, but privately, as well.
Commitment. Are you committed to taking care of the temple? Ultimately, it does not belong to you and must be viewed as a matter of stewardship. You are only the manager who will give an account to the Owner.
Congregationally. As a public figure, you live in the proverbial "glass house" or "fish bowl." Fair or not, you must deal with this through a life of authenticity and action. Be willing to confess your lack of temple-care and challenge others in a quest for the best possible human address, both for you and those who gather at the physical address known as the "church."
© Jim Fisher, Ph.D.
Christian Education and Leadership Concepts, LLC.
Fit for the Fight, June 2010
1 Much of the information is taken from the author’s dissertation: The Relationship between Selected Disciplines of Physical Wellness and Spiritual Wellness among Southern Baptist Pastors, 2006.
2 Richard Swenson, More than Meets the Eyes (Colorado Springs, CO: NavPress, 2000), 98.
3 Dick Couey and Tommy Yessick, Fit to Serve Him Longer and Better (Nashville: LifeWay Press,1998), 24
4 Brenda Polk, With All My Strength: God's Design for Physical Wellness (Nashville, TN: LifeWay Press, 2002), 12.
5 Bruce Barton (ed), The Life Application New Testament Commentary (Wheaton, IL: Tyndale House Publishers, 2001), 665-66.
6 Cheryl Kirk-Duggan, The Undivided Soul: Helping Congregations Connect Body and Spirit (Nashville, TN: Abingdon Press, 2001), 74.
7 Mel Lawrenz, The Dynamics of Spiritual Formation (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2000), 33.