A number of years ago, the well-known and beloved professor Howard Hendricks was teaching at Dallas Theological Seminary (DTS). As DTS was an all-male school at the time, the classroom was full of men who aspired to serve the Lord and exercise leadership within the church. It is reported that Hendricks stood up once in a class and said something to this effect, “Gentlemen, I need to talk to you. I have decided that I am not going to waste my time on many of you anymore.” (At this point anybody who might have been dozing off was wide awake.) “Here is why,” he continued. “Some of you are so hopelessly out of shape that I’m not going to invest my time in you. I would rather invest my time on someone who is going to live a long time. So get in shape, or get out of school.”
In this compelling challenge to the students of DTS, Prof. Hendricks reminds us that while the Christian life is deeply spiritual, it is also wholly physical. In fact, how we view our bodies, and steward the physical side of life, is a spiritual matter. Let it be remembered that the inner life of the spirit is manifest in the outer life of the body. Sanctification is expressed physically, that is why we should prize, preserve, and present our bodies to God for Christian service (Rom. 6:13; 12:1-2). According to the Bible, our body is integral to what we are (1 Thess. 5:23). While the physical dimension of life does not define us completely, we nevertheless live with and through our bodies. Our corporeality is inescapable. Human existence and expression is impossible apart from the body. In that sense we are our bodies!
The Christian therefore cannot be a practical Gnostic. We dare not ignore the physical and corporeal side of life, or discount the importance of the body as a vehicle for God’s glory (1 Cor. 10:31; Phil. 1:20). Gnostics embrace a radical worldview that sees the material side of life as bad. For them, salvation was the spirit liberated from the prison of physical life. How different from a Christian worldview - where the body is viewed as something valuable and vital to life in its fullest expression. In Christian theology, God created the body, and endowed it with dignity and design (Gen. 1:27); the Lord Jesus Christ redeemed the body, making it His (1 Cor. 6:20); the Holy Spirit indwells and seeks to direct the body to godly ends (1 Cor. 6:19); and someday God will raise the body at the resurrection in a glorious new form (1 Cor. 6:14; 15:35-49).
Real sanctification will by necessity take place in and through the body. There is no such thing as godliness or holiness that does not involve us physically. That is why it is important for us to present our bodies to the Lord day-by-day in the best possible condition that we can. Let us value and care about our physical health (Eph. 5:29). Let us surrender our bodies to the influence of the Holy Spirit (Eph. 5:18). Let us serve God and others with our bodies (Phil. 1:21-24). Let us prize, protect, and promote the sexual purity of our bodies (1 Thess. 4:3-4). And let us hold our physical well-being less dear than loyalty to our Lord Jesus Christ (Acts 20:24).
Bottom line - the body is for the Lord (1 Cor. 6:13)! If the Lord is going to use us, then He must have our bodies, healthy and holy!