January 14

1 Corinthians 6:12-20


Because we are spiritual creatures it has sometimes been assumed that what we do on a physical level is of no account in our living of the Christian life. But body and spirit are inter-related. In Genesis we read, “The Lord God formed man from the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life.” God made us to be both physical and spiritual. What happens to our bodies can affect our spirits, and at the same time our spirituality finds its expression through our physicality. Think of spiritual experiences like happiness or sadness: they show themselves through smiles or tears, although smiles or tears in themselves do not make the experience. Similarly compassion leads to acts of generosity and kindness while giving and helping the needy do not by themselves make us compassionate. They can be carried out with very uncompassionate motives. We are a complex intermeshing of body and spirit.  In his correspondence with the Corinthian Christians, Paul likened our human bodies to temples, temples being physical locations where the Spirit of God dwells. Through our faith relationship with Jesus, God’s Spirit, identified also as the Spirit of Christ, dwells within us. The Spirit of Christ is there prompting us to live God’s way, calling us to live the way of love defined by Jesus, enabling us to live in a vital, trusting, obedient relationship with God. The body is neither to be worshipped nor despised. It is the vehicle through which our spirits find expression and when the Spirit of Christ is within us it becomes a vehicle through which Christ works in the world today. We are not called to a purely spiritual faith but to one where the Spirit of God acts through our physical actions. That is why limiting the Gospel to personal salvation is a truncation of it. It involves personal experience, but then that is meant to find its expression in activities like feeding the hungry, visiting the lonely, advocating for the oppressed, and acting for peace.

  • Give examples of ways in which physical health is affected by one’s spirit.
  • “The body is neither to be worshipped nor despised”. What are some of the ways in which people worship their bodies?
  • What are some of the ways in which people despise their bodies?
  • Do you agree then that what we humans do to the natural world is a spiritual issue? What should we do about it?