Some friends of mine recently spotted the following sign outside a local pub:
Your body is not a temple. It’s an amusement park. Enjoy the ride!
What a perfect summary of what our culture believes about who we are and what life is about. We expect life to be fun, filled with exciting experiences, bright lights and stimulation for all our senses, and particularly in our leisure time, we pursue this kind of adventure wholeheartedly.
At least, we do when we’re young. As we get older we either find other calls on our purses and time, or find that this full-on lifestyle just isn’t sustainable, and start to pull back. But that’s when many people have a ‘mid-life crisis’, going out to buy flashy cars, having affairs, or taking up some new, exotic hobby. It’s as though we suddenly remember that we thought life was supposed to be about having roller-coaster experiences, and, ironically, fear life down on the ground far more than the swoop, dip and rattle of the scary ride.
In their family newsletter, the couple who spotted the pub sign above pointed out that the Bible says:
“Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honour God with your bodies.” 1 Corinthians 6:19,20
Christians are supposed to understand ourselves and our place in this world differently to what our culture teaches us is right. Far from being ‘my’ body, with which I can (and should) do what I like, giving it all the fun experiences and sensations I can cram in before it gives out on me, this mass of bones and blood-vessels, flesh and fat, muscle and mucus actually belongs to someone else.
It was created by God, is inhabited by him (at my invitation!), and moreover was designed by him as a place of worship.
That doesn’t mean I have to live my life in sombre contemplation, never speaking above a low murmur and always wearing robes and a dog-collar – God also created many good things for my enjoyment and delight. What it means, though, is that my focus should be on seeking His glory, not my own next ‘hit’ of pleasure.
Then when the mid-life restlessness hits, or old age sets in with all its limitations, we will be far better prepared, having already learned how to find our joy in God rather than in fun sensations, and having already set our hearts on glorifying him in all circumstances.
Amusement parks are great. Disneyland is a lot of fun and worth a visit if you get the chance, but worshipping it – seeing it as your primary goal and greatest fulfilment in life – is pinning all your hopes on a myth. The hit will never satisfy, and will always leave you craving more. The ‘temple’ may look less sparkly and glittery, but millions of Christians down the centuries will tell you that it is certainly just as exciting, scary and thrilling, with a depth that really satisfies.
Step away from the glitter and into the glory.
Picture Credit: Fireworks Over Cinderella Castle by Tom Bricker (Creative Commons)