By Not Known
Our focus today is on the physicality of God’s creation. God made a world of dirt, rocks, water, plants, animals and people who are physical in nature.
Some have a problem with this physicality of the creation and oppose it to the spiritual. This is not Biblical, but it is very common. Some of the early Christian thinkers were more influenced by pagan philosophy than by the Scriptures. Some pagan philosophers taught that the world of spirit and mind was far superior to the physical. In the eyes of some, the realm of the physical was at best inferior, and at worst, implicitly evil. This philosophy made for bad theology when it came into the church
The Bible teaches that God’s creation was both physical and good. The physical creation is five times declared to be good and at the end of creation God declared the whole to be very good (Gen 1:4, 10, 12, 18, 25, 31). As someone has written, the real divide is not between spirit and matter, but between sin and obedience. We can sin in the spiritual realm, for example by selfish and sanctimonious prayers (eg Lk 18:9- 14). We can worship with our physical bodies, by yielding every part of our body as an instrument of righteousness (eg Rom 6: 13).
Psalm 104 is a wonderful celebration of the blessings and wonder of the physical creation. It opens with a doxology (1a) and then moves through the act of creation (1b-9), ranges over the glories of the creation we see about us (10-26), reminds us of our dependence on God (27-30) and ends with another doxological note (31-35)
All this is reinforced in today’s communion service. We remember Jesus who came in the physical body for our salvation and who was crucified and raised in the flesh. We remember him through the physical elements of bread and wine, which were dietary staples in Biblical times.
Let us not be in denial or ashamed of our bodies and the needs and pleasures associated with them. We need food, drink, sleep and hugs and are enriched by them. There is no Christian virtue in a grim-faced asceticism that denies the body. Rom 12: 1-2 is instructive: we are to present our bodies to God as an act of spiritual worship. The word used is unmistakably physical in its reference. Let us worship god in body, as well as in spirit and mind.