Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Book Review: Every Body Matters

Gary Thomas has entered a risky arena in his Every Body Matters. Many evangelicals voice considerable objection over the current cultural obsession with body image. Conversely, some Christians have fallen prey to the mindset that “image is everything.” In this book, Thomas adds his input in a way that brings us back to the center.

The premise is that God has given each of us only one body through which we live to the glory of God. Stewardship of this resource is as important as any other aspect of life. Thomas states his position clearly: “Whether you’re in your twenties, thirties, or forties – or facing your fifties, sixties, seventies, or beyond – one thing is certain: you’re doing it in a body, a body that not only contains a soul but affects your soul as well. We are not angels, pursuing God without physical covering, and if we try to pretend that we are – living as though the state of our bodies has no effect on the condition of our souls – all the proper doctrine in the world can’t save us from eating away our sensitivity to God’s presence or throwing away years of potential ministry if we wreck our heart’s physical home.”

The intent of this book is not to produce marathon runners (although Gary Thomas runs in marathons), bodybuilders, or swimsuit models. It is to encourage the Christian to seriously consider the totality of the individual created in God’s image.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Living in the Light of the "Hour"

Throughout the Gospel of John, Jesus repeatedly spoke about “his hour.” This is a reference to his impending death on the cross. In John 12:23-26 that “hour” had finally come. Everything would be different. The world became a different world.

Up to this point, the disciples were clueless about the events of the coming days. They would be taken by surprise at Jesus’ crucifixion and suffer crushing despair, unaware that the Savior would rise from the dead.

In John 12: 23-26 Jesus prepared his disciples by telling them how to live in this different world. He would show them in concrete ways by his death and resurrection.

In a series of paradoxical statements, Jesus left instructions for his disciples, the Twelve and those who would follow their teachings down through the centuries.

One must die if he is to Live – 24

All who heard Jesus were familiar with this agricultural analogy. The seed goes into the ground and “dies” so it can germinate. If it doesn’t do this, it cannot take root and bear.

Jesus’ was about to do this very thing. He would die and go into the tomb, but He would come out alive. His resurrection would bear fruit that still has yet to be gathered.

In all likelihood, you and I are not called upon to die – yet! Tertullian said that “the blood of the martyrs is the seed of the church.” But if not called upon to die for the sake of Christ, we are certainly to die to self for the sake of Christ. This is amazingly difficult. Yet we discover that the only way to truly live without fear and without hesitation is to die to this life and live to the glory of God.

One must lose his life if he is to keep it – 25

Most of our lives are spent providing for this life, making ourselves comfortable, attractive, healthy, safe and secure. It’s all about living in the now.

Jesus says that to keep our lives we must lose them. There is more to life than “now.” And while we know there is a life to come that will overshadow this life, it is true that so few of us prepare for that life because we are so consumed with this one.

To lose our lives means to lose them in following Christ. All of the things we do to maintain life here is good and right – but not if it consumes us; not if life becomes our life.

One must be humble if he is to be honored – 26

We would expect Jesus to have something to say about serving God and following Him. This is right and proper. At the end of the statement he adds this: if anyone serves me the Father will honor Him. This is consistent with Jesus had said previously about seeking the most prominent positions at a feast. In the kingdom of God the way up is down; the first shall be last; the last shall be first.

This is counter-cultural to a “me-first” culture. But it is only being Christ-like.