5. It’s Natural
We were designed as stewards over a portion of God’s Creation. Adam and Eve first had eternal bodies, unlike the rest of Creation, which is supposed to exist in a life and death cycle. The actual passing of time, and the limitations of space, are natural to the rest of Creation, but we were supposed to be above that. Our natural state is living as eternal beings in a mortal universe.
After the Fall, you and I are confined to live as part of nature, not as managers over nature. We are permitted under Christ to taste the powers of our eternal form in some limited ways, but we remain anchored inside very mortal flesh. We assert our divine privileges mostly by overcoming the Curse of the Fall in our fleshly bodies. Redemption is the process by which we restrain our fleshly nature, the fallen instinct to trust our senses and our reason, and learn to compel our flesh to bend the knee to Christ as the ultimate revelation of God. This is self-death, nailing our fleshly natures to the Cross of Christ. It’s the same as turning the Flaming Sword on ourselves.
Paul once used the image of athletic training to depict the process of redemption. We actively participate in training our fleshly selves to serve a higher purpose. But this image is more than just another parable. Throughout the New Testament, starting with the Gospels, we find Christ Himself setting the pace for self-denial. Not in the rigid discipline of scientific fitness training, but in a broader shift of orientation, telling the body that its needs and desires take a back seat. It’s along for the ride; it’s needs are not neglected outright, but they aren’t a priority.
The human body is just another tool to serve a divine purpose. It would be easy to carry such an assumption to false extremes if we rely on human reason, but the divine image of this is pretty solid, if you pay attention. Our bodies can be very useful tools, or we can neglect them and offer the Lord a very poorly maintained asset. We neither worship the fleshly capabilities, nor do we wallow in self-indulgent neglect. The right approach is to seek the Lord’s face in prayer as to the proper image of how we handle our own bodies to glorify Him.
In so doing, we will make many choices along the way in defiance of secular advice from medical science. Sometimes we will count on the miraculous power of the Lord, and sometimes we will simply accept the less than ideal outcomes as the price for Kingdom obedience. But the concept is one of making the most of your physical assets so as to render unto the Lord whatever He demands of you. We need to make our bodies as capable as possible for a wide range of things we cannot see down the road. The particular path we follow is a matter of conviction, but wallowing in fleshly self-indulgence is inherently contrary to Scripture. Take good care of whatever body the Lord has given you.
Our bodies are a part of Creation, another aspect of the natural world. In that sense, what is in human best interest is also in nature’s best interest, and vice versa. It’s all one thing. We are crippled stewards, but still stewards over Creation, and that includes our bodies. The continuity of reverence is the same for body and environment. Your body is the primary environment in which you operate. This requires a certain element of disassociation. We are not our bodies; our bodies are simply a vehicle for our fallen sojourn on this earth. In our multilevel heart-led conscious awareness, we never forget that our bodies are more the property of nature than they are ours. But by the same token, we are apprentice stewards over all natural resources. We place our physical needs in the same basket as other humans and the rest of the natural order around us.
Before you seek to pursue a particular path of decision, consider in prayer and meditation in your heart what the Lord is calling you to do. Your image of yourself as soldier, athlete, worker, etc., is bound up in your divine calling. No one else is going to have all the right answers for you, but your brothers and sisters in the heart-led way can probably offer some useful advice to help you shape your own vocational choices in serving Christ.