The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it.—Genesis 2:15
Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship.—Romans 12:1
Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God?—1 Corinthians 6:19
Spring is coming. I can feel it.
Technically, we are only halfway through winter, which doesn’t end until March 21st. But this week the temperatures are creeping up, and things just feel different. As I write this, my kids are outside, laughing and shouting on the trampoline, after months of being cooped up indoors. It’s a beautiful sound. I’m torn, because I know we need more moisture around here, and so part of me is still praying for another good snowstorm. But maybe it could just be up in the mountains? Because the other part of me loves to be outside, especially when the air gets warmer and things turn green.
Here is something that is true whether we like it or not: Life is unavoidably physical. This doesn’t mean that everyone has to be athletic or outdoorsy. It does mean that even if you are the most indoorsy bookworm (or screenworm?) around, you were born with a body, and you will live life from within that body until you die. At that time, if you are a believer in Jesus Christ, the Bible says you will receive a new, glorified body like the one He had after rising from the dead (See Philippians 3:21 and 2 Corinthians 5:1-5). In His perfect wisdom, God decided that we would not be floating spirits, now or in eternity. We are physical/spiritual beings, capable of praying and thinking, knowing and loving God and each other, but also capable of climbing mountains, painting pictures, weeding gardens, and hugging our loved ones.
When God created people, he not only made us physical, but gave us physical things to do. Adam and Eve were given a garden to care for. I imagine they also prayed and sang worship songs and had deep, intelligent conversations, but the Bible doesn’t talk about that. Their job was to take care of the garden, which meant learning about the physical world God had made and digging in the dirt with their hands. It meant that their labor, and the fruits of their labor, were an offering of worship to God. After God made them this way, He surveyed His creation and declared that it was very good. To me, this means He approves of this physical life we live, and thinks if we were floating spirits it would be a step down.
Romans chapter 12 says that we worship God by offering Him our bodies. Not just our lives, not just our selves, but specifically our bodies. God, the things I do today, I will do for you. Receive my actions as an offering of love. 1 Corinthians 6 says that for believers, our bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit. Somehow, in a mystery, the living God is present in our flesh. When we do our best at our jobs, when we hug people and help them carry their groceries, He is there. When He gave us bodies, God was giving us a way to worship Him and experience Him. We tend to think of the words “physical” and “spiritual” as opposites, but they are not. We are at our most spiritual when we allow God to have his way in our physical, everyday lives.
Of course, these things are true all year. They are true even in the dead of winter, when we’re just moving as quickly as we can between heated cars and heated buildings. But there is something about the coming of spring that feels to me like an invitation to worship God in a new way, by taking care of my house and hosting barbecues, mowing my mom’s lawn and throwing the frisbee at the park.
And yes, this is all a little premature. The temperatures could drop next week, and we could still have more snow, which would be a blessing. But as sure as the sun will rise a little earlier each morning, for the next few months we are moving toward warmer days, not colder ones, and with that comes a fresh opportunity to glorify God as we enjoy the world He has made. I hope you are looking forward to it. Whatever your state of physical health and ability, I hope you’ll find ways to appreciate the beauty of nature, and to serve and be a blessing to the people around you. Soon it will be warm enough to enjoy a sunrise or sunset without freezing to death. Soon our neighbors will be out in their front yards, ready for us to share God’s love with them. This coming spring, may we celebrate His goodness, wisdom, and beauty in the work and play of our daily lives.