Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Some Thoughts on the Body and the Kingdom of God

A dear friend and I were recently discussing a statement I had given him regarding the role of the body in the Kingdom of God:
"I am God's will in the place and time where I currently am in my embodied self, holy and pleasing to him, bearer of the Kingdom of God in my body to those around me."

This statement brings together several key Scriptures regarding the body:

Rom 12:1-2
​ (cf. Rom 6:11-14)

"I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect." (ESV)

Hebrews 10:5-7
​ (cf. Ps 40:6-8)​

Therefore, when Christ came into the world, he said:

“Sacrifice and offering you did not desire,
    but a body you prepared for me;
with burnt offerings and sin offerings
    you were not pleased.
Then I said, ‘Here I am—it is written about me in the scroll—
    I have come to do your will, my God.’”
​ (NIV)​

My body is the place where my will is done
​Apart from
 the mind, 
​the body 
is the only realm I have direct control over. It is my 
power pack,
 my only faculty for directly affecting the world around me
​. Through my body, my kingdom relates to all other kingdoms. The body provides a physical boundary/border between persons, which is why physical and sexual abuse are so damaging to the soul - they are profound violations of personal kingdom.

We were created to have bodies surrendered to our 
 under God and his goodness. When we surrender and are "aligned
" then the boundaries between my will/kingdom and God's will/kingdom begin to blur
​, mesh and interpenetrate​
. This is PRESENCE
​, and it takes a lifetime to develop (usually through much suffering!)​
. We bear in our bodies the presence of the Kingdom
​ of God​
 to the extent that they are surrendered to
​- and abiding in- ​
and his will.
​ This is why, in practicing the presence of God, Frank Laubach learned to focus on doing the will of God every minute.​

"Although I have been a minister and a missionary for fifteen years, I have not lived the entire day of every day in minute by minute effort to follow the will of God. Two years ago a profound dissatisfaction led me to begin trying to line up my actions with the will of God about every fifteen minutes or every half hour. Other people to whom I confessed this intention said it was impossible. I judge from what I have heard that few people are really trying even that. But this year I have started out trying to live all my waking moments in conscious listening to the inner voice, asking without ceasing, “What, Father, do you desire said? What, Father, do you desire done this minute?” It is clear that this is exactly what Jesus was doing all day every day." (Frank Laubach, Letters by a Modern Mystic, p.6; entry for January 20, 1930).

One of my favorite quotes from Dallas Willard's Knowing Christ Today is relevant here:

"With these two preliminaries in place—and when they are in place we will certainly be aware that God is acting in us—we grow in our knowledge of Christ-with-us by, first of all, constant expectation of him in the place where we are, wherever that may be. “The sacrament of the present moment,” as it is sometimes called, is from the human side nothing but the invocation, expectation, and receptivity of God’s presence and activity where we are and in what we are doing at any given time. Then we steadily grow in graceful interactions with Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. They gradually take up all of our life into their trinitarian life (John 17:21–24)." (p.153)

​Further, the statement above alludes to the fact that the body can only be present to its surroundings; there is no past or future except what our minds introduce. The place and time that is currently occupied by my body (and interacting with my body) are the only conditions that exist in which to seek and find God's Kingdom, the only conditions in which I can taste and see, test, discern and prove.​

No comments: