Tuesday, April 10, 2012

His Body has been Raised. Your's will be too.

For the last few thousand years the Church has confessed to believe in the “resurrection of the dead”.  We confess it in the ecumenical creeds.  The Apostle Paul teaches it.  Jesus himself teaches it.  But, as he does with every other doctrine or Word from God, the devil wants to take that away.  The devil has attacked this word of God in several different ways.
To confess the resurrection of the dead is to confess that God has honored the body.  We can see in the Bible just how greatly God values his creation of our bodies.  In Genesis 2, when God first gave us a body he implemented a very deliberate process, forming Adam out of clay and then breathing into him.  This was different from how he made the other bodies – animals and fish and birds.  With them he simply spoke them into existence but he honored the human race with a very deliberate and “hands on” approach to our creation. 
Through the Old Testament we can see that God cares for the bodies of his people.  When he gives the law to the Israelites through Moses he adds provisions for the body.  When he leads his people through the wilderness he feeds their bodies and he makes sure that they are clothed.  Their shoes don’t wear out and their garments don’t wear thin. (Deuteronomy  29:5)
With the New Testament and through the Epistles we can see God’s care for the body.  The sacraments are not just spiritual but they are visible and involve the body – baptism wets the forehead, the Eucharist feeds the soul and the body with spiritual but also physical food. 
The greatest sign of God's honor for our bodies is the fact that He himself has one.  When he decided to save us he went out and got for himself a body.  He was incarnate. He was en-fleshed.  He took for himself even those aspects to having a body that we might find less honorable (diapers, trips to the toilet, acne) and he honored our bodies by himself engaging in them.   His honorable body even died, as our dishonorable bodies do.
But then Christ was raised.  Paul calls him the first fruits from among those who have died.  After our sins were paid for, Jesus took back his body and glorified it so that now the One who sits enthroned in heaven has a body.  He is a flesh and blood human being just the same way that we are.
Satan wants to dishonor what God's Word teaches us that God has honored.  Satan does a lot of things to dishonor our bodies.  There are lots of examples that we see in our own contemporary society.  They are subtle attacks on the resurrection.
God defends our bodies in the commandments.  Satan undermines these commandments to dishonor our bodies.  God defends our bodies from being dishonored by violence in the 5th Commandment.  Satan responds to this honor by inciting our culture to glorify violence.   Explicit gore and gruesomeness are top dollar entertainment (Saw I, II, III, IV etc.).  Bodies of little babies are dismembered and discarded as part of the abortion practice.  Bodies of adults are euthanized when people have determined they are no longer useful. 
God also defends and honors our bodies in the 6th Commandment.  Satan dishonors our bodies by teaching us that sex is just sex and the body is just a commodity to be bought and sold and used up.  This is the message given in the "hook up" culture, in prostitution, in pornography.  Paul reminds us that our bodies should not be united to a prostitute because God has honored them by making them the temple of his Spirit. (1 Corinthians 6:19-20)

I will inch out on a limb a little and make a claim.  I believe that the trend of tattooing is an example of Satan's attack against the resurrection and against the body.  To begin with, much of the tattooing seems to have neo pagan influence - many of the designs are tribal or naturalist.  Neo-paganism is dualistic in nature.  It emphasized the spirit at the expense of the body.  In addition, there is physical violence and pain that is endured through these decorative procedures that becomes addictive according to many who have submitted them.  Is there also a connection between the sex industry, prostitution and pornography  and the tattooing?  I think so.  I believe that at the heart of this trend is a notion that the body isn’t important – it’s just meat and skin.  It can and perhaps even should be decorated and improved.  I believe there is a connection to Satan’s attack on the body, especially his attack on the 6th commandment and the 5th commandment and today’s neo pagan cultural influence.
Sometimes even within the church Christians are tempted to overlook the importance of the body.   Jeff Gibbs has observed that Christian funerals often leave those dead in Christ in heaven when they neglect to preach the resurrection.  Overly spiritualized sacraments that neglect the forgiveness of sins in the eating and drinking and in the baptizing neglect God’s care for our bodies.  This leaves the door open for Satan to sneak in and disrupt the Church through those egregious and more obvious cultural temptations.  

The Lord honors our bodies.  He cares for our bodies.  He made them.  He gave a body to each one of us.  He feeds and clothes those bodies.  He has given his law to defend and protect those bodies.  He has taken a body for himself so that he could use his to die for ours.  His has been raised so that ours can also be raised.  Satan wants to take this away.  The Word of God won’t let him.  The better we study that Word the better equipped we will to defend the thing that God has determined is worth dying to save.