Scripture Reading: 1 Corinthians 6:1-20, Matthew 18:15-20, Titus 3:4-7
Last August, I started snapping photos of waiting rooms in doctors’ offices. In an attempt to manage my pre-medical exam nerves, I snapped the first picture in an empty, grey walk-in clinic during my lunch break. I assured myself that when I walked out of the room and closed the door, I’d look back at the picture on my phone and laugh at how silly my fear was.
Almost a year later, I’ve amassed quite a collection of waiting room images. I still have the strange spasm in my shoulder that causes pain and is now considered chronic, at least by those doctors. It keeps me up at night, and hurts most while doing the work I love and feel called to—namely, writing. This year has brought more questions than answers, leaving me insecure about my pain. In the end, I feel like my body is more a vessel of shame and weakness than a temple of praise.
In some ways, our bodies ache with sin and pain. Our muscles, memory, and metabolism may fail us. Our bodies betray us with limits, and we betray our bodies when we disregard those limits. All this brokenness is an ever-present reminder of Christ’s body broken for us, our sin, and our shame.
The apostle Paul tells us we’ve been washed, sanctified, and justified “in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God” (v.11). Therefore, because of Christ’s sacrificial death and resurrection for us, our bodies are no longer our own; they were bought with a price. “So glorify God with your body” (vv.19–20).
Paul tell us to flee from sexual immorality, to not be mastered by anything, to avoid legal disputes with one another—all in an effort to glorify God. Without the context of Jesus, this can begin to sound like a legalistic to-do list. But as theologian Henri Nouwen says, “The church is not an institution forcing us to follow rules but a community inviting us to still our hunger and thirst at its table.”
In 1 Corinthians 6, we find ways to still our hunger and thirst (1 Corinthians 4:11), but when we try to do so without filling them up with heavenly things instead, our bodies still feel like empty vessels of shame. Jesus is the only one who can truly fill us up and sustain us. When we turn to Him, we’re reminded that it was His body that was broken, His blood that was shed, for us.
To glorify God with our bodies means to place physical trust in His plan to bring redemption to our brokenness. It means taking part in the groans of humanity and the painfulness of sin. It means remembering His promises to bring wholeness and healing now, even if we don’t know when it’s coming.
Acknowledging our aches and limitations is at the heart of what it is to be a child of God. He is all that we will ever need to withstand our heartache, pain, and sin. In our weakness, His power is perfected, and He is glorified (2 Corinthians 12:9).
We are not our own. We are His glory vessels. Thanks be to Him.