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Episode 12 of Kindavangelical just released! The Art and Joy of Civil Conversation

My Body Image
5-DAY READING

Do you have a negative view of your body? Our culture is obsessed with better bodies, and we can easily fall into the mindset of feeling not good enough. But what does the Bible say about our bodies? In this 5-day reading plan, Pete Briscoe shares how God views us and offers a new and better way to think about our bodies.

Day 1

Reality Checkup for You

Our bodies are apt to be our autobiographies. —Frank Gillette Burgess

The human body.

This topic is of immense concern in our culture. Look at the diet ads on television after New Year’s Day, the plastic surgeons’ advertisements, and the latest infomercial touting a machine that can make you look like Mr. or Mrs. Universe in less than two minutes a day.

Consider our “body language.” Our conversations can so often end up focusing on our bodies and the dreaded “F” word—fat. We’re always talking about our bodies!

Yeah, our culture has taught us to be obsessed with our bodies, but in all the wrong ways for all the wrong reasons. Should we really be concerned about which emaciated Hollywood star has gained 3.5 ounces over the holidays? Maybe not, but we are.

Enough about what we, the books, and tabloids say about this… what does God say about the body?

I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.(Psalm 139:14)

Your body is wonderful.

Do you believe that? Could you praise God for your body? Do you?

That’s not a simple question, is it? Many of us praise God in spite of how our bodies seem to be made. Some of us can’t think of any reason to thank Him at all. As our bodies interact with the world, they often experience pain, disease, injury, and… eventually, death.

Sure, our bodies might be “wonderful,” but not always in the “good” sense of the word. Is it possible that we have been made in a way that is “full of wonder” in the sense that we might have more questions than answers?

In His Word, God tells us the truth about our bodies—all the good, all the bad. I believe He wants you to see your body as He sees it and to use it as He intended. He wants you to praise Him for the way He has made you and to thank Him, by faith, for your body. That might seem like a real stretch right now. But if that’s what He wants for us, He stands ready to make it happen through us.

Dear Lord, thank You for Your many blessings and for shaping me to reflect Your perfect image. Help me to see my body as You see it. Please expose the lies that I have believed about how I am made. Open my eyes and mind so I can see the full wonder of the body You have given me. Amen.

Day 2

You Are His Masterpiece

The human body is a machine, which winds its own springs. —Julien Offroy de la Mettrie

Modern technology has uncovered a phenomenal biological world inside the human body. Its complexity far exceeds anything that anyone ever imagined… and in many ways, we haven’t even begun to explore it, even with the incredible medical technology available to us.

Dr. Lang, a friend of mine who was once Head of Cardiology at Johns Hopkins in Baltimore, showed me just how incredible the human body is with these statistics:

There are 74 trillion cells in the human body. The white blood cells in the lymph tissue can form 10,000-100,000 different antibodies. They fight against foreign tissue and can make these antibodies at a rate of 2000 per second. A single white blood cell can kill as many as a hundred bacteria. Over the course of a lifetime, the heart will pump an average of 52,560,000 gallons of blood. That’s enough to fill a New York skyscraper! I could go on, but you get the point:

Your body is incredible.

Then God said, “Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.” (Genesis 1:26)

When God sculpted humanity in His image, an amazing amount of detail went into the work, resulting in an intricate masterpiece. He created life the way He did to glorify Himself; however, He took another step further with humanity in His love – He designed us to represent Himself! Isn’t it awesome that God has blessed us to be His masterpiece? I can’t think of much else that’s better… key word being “much.”

God also designed us to be inhabited by His Spirit, a personal relationship shared by no other living thing in existence. All of these things work together to create a complex, beautiful creature that cannot be replicated.

Father, I am in awe of the intricacies You have built into my body. I rejoice that You shaped me, and You designed me to be in a relationship with You. Help me to remember how special I am; that because You made me, I am special, unique, and beautiful in Your eyes. Amen.

Day 3

Your Essential Earth Suit

Take care of your body. It’s the only place you have to live. —Jim Rohn

These days in Christian culture, we’re often taught to look away from our earthly selves and focus on God. This appears most often in response to problems like physical temptations, obsession with personal image, or substance addiction. While it is certainly important that we do not become our own idols and serve our own fleeting wants, let’s not forget our bodies are “fairly important” for the act of living on earth (sarcasm intentional). Let’s be realistic. You can’t live here without it!

Counselor Bill Gillham calls the human body an “earth suit.” Just as a spacesuit keeps an astronaut alive, the body is essential for our earthly existence.

Your body is indispensable.

May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. (1 Thessalonians 5:23)

The Bible says that human beings are made up of a spirit, soul, and body. In God’s creation, we are confined to a limited existence so we can reach others and tend to the creation He entrusted to us. While it is really important to pay attention to the growth of your spirit and soul, the body is what sustains those things on this earth. We must treat it with healthy respect. Each part of us sustains the other, so being negligent to one part of us is just as bad as paying too much attention to it. Paul told us to take care of our whole selves, and that includes our bodies.

Father God, I need You to balance my life the way You meant it to be. I can’t do that on my own. I want to care for this “earth suit,” but I don’t want to do that in my own wisdom or strength. I surrender them all to You. I submit to Your Spirit, in me, in every area. Show me how to care for them all, keeping my attention in check when they become pointed or selfish. Amen.

Day 4

Settling in for the Long Haul

I don’t generally like running. I believe in training by rising gently up and down from the bench. —Satchel Paige

Life is like a marathon. It’s a good long race that lasts a long time (Lord willing). But you don’t decide on Saturday to run a marathon on Sunday. Marathons take preparation, vision, and training. The apostle Paul says that we’re supposed to do the same thing in life. We are supposed to discipline and train our bodies, as the race ahead of us is long.

They do it to get a crown that will not last; but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. Therefore I do not run like someone running aimlessly; I do not fight like a boxer beating the air. No, I strike a blow to my body and make it my slave… (1 Corinthians 9:25-27)

Your body is trainable.

That’s actually very exciting news because the Scriptures also say that offering our bodies is worship:

Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship. (Romans 12:1)

Training and disciplining the body is also worthwhile:

Do not offer any part of yourself to sin as an instrument of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life; and offer every part of yourself to him as an instrument of righteousness. (Romans 6:13)

What a great perspective to have about your body: It is a living sacrifice, an instrument of righteousness in the hands of God! THAT is a good reason to be joyful if I’ve ever seen one!

O God, I am so glad that I can prepare myself to resist the world and better myself for You! Continue to give me strength as I settle in for the long haul. I worship You as I change and offer my whole self to Your will. Amen.

Day 5

Looking Beyond the Physical

Health is not valued till sickness comes. —Dr. Thomas Fuller

After God created Adam and Eve’s bodies, He said everything was “very good.” But that was before sin; that was before Adam and Eve were kicked out of Eden. Sadly, we no longer live in the best place to take care of our bodies the way we want/need to. This is bad news because despite its complexity, despite its importance (or even arguably partly because of these), the human body is vulnerable to things it was never designed to withstand.

Your body is susceptible.

God intended for the human body to be used in a certain way. If it’s used differently than He intended, there are going to be natural consequences. Too much alcohol, too much food, sex outside of a monogamous life-long union… if you don’t follow Scripture, you can bring upon yourself obesity, heart disease, alcoholism, sexually-transmitted diseases, etc. God has our best interest in mind when He commands things like this:

Do not join those who drink too much wine or gorge themselves on meat. (Proverbs 23:20)

Because we live in a world bombarded with the effects of the Fall and sin, many things may come upon us through no fault of our own. Allergies, Alzheimer’s, cancer… many ailments are not always caused by our actions or result from any sins we may commit, but that does not lessen their effects in the slightest.

Are you feeling the susceptibility of your physical body today? God’s Word puts it in eternal perspective:

Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. (2 Corinthians 4:16-18)

Eternal Father, give me the willingness and ability to look beyond the physical and the temporary today so that I might see what is unseen and find hope in the eternal. Amen.

Reflection:

  1. Do you believe that God views you as beautiful and unique?
  2. How can you offer yourself to God for His righteousness?
  3. What can I do to better take care of all God has given me…spirit, soul, and body?

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