Why Physical Matters

Why should we care about the bodies which convey our eternal souls about this world?  Won’t they be renewed in heaven anyway?  Aren’t we supposed to focus on the eternal things rather than worldly things? 

            Romans 8:29 could be used to argue that we are to focus our energies on spiritual transformation so that we can be made into the likeness of Christ as could other verses urging spiritual transformation.  However, working for the eternal does not mean ignoring or intentionally harming the physical body crafted for us by our loving Creator.  There are several reasons Christians should care for their physical bodies which are so intimately connected to our spiritual bodies.

            First, Christ cared for our bodies by healing the lame and the ill. In doing so he showed compassion on those suffering from physical illness.  If Christ spent so much time healing those with various illnesses, we should care for our physical health and that of others.  Not only this, but Christ died for both our bodies and our spirits, so that both could be renewed on the New Earth.

            Second, other authors of Holy Scripture cared for the physical health of those under their care.  Though only a brief mention in 2 Timothy, Paul took a moment to urge Timothy to drink a little wine for his stomach, seeming to indicate that Timothy was having a health issue.  John also took a moment to pray for the physical well-being of the readers as well as for their spiritual health.  Paul and John were concerned about the physical well-being of the sheep under their care.

            Third, God’s care for man’s physical condition is seen in his healing of many different Bible characters.  This includes Naaman’s leprosy (2 Kings 5:1-27) and the widow with Elijah (I Kings 17:17-24).  He also cared for groups of people such as when Moses lifted up the bronze snake for healing in the camp (Numbers 21:9). 

            Finally, if we are to be transformed into the image of Christ, we cannot ignore physical bodies gifted to us, but must act as stewards of the gift.  Our bodies can then be used to glorify God in body and spirit (I Corinthians 6:19-20).  If we are neglecting the care of this gift, we will not be as prepared for this work of glorifying God and may be less able to love our neighbor.

            If this were not enough to convince us, an intimate connection between the physical and the spiritual is woven throughout the Bible as even the words used to describe one form of healing such as physical, often overlap with the words used for salvation or spiritual healing.  Beyond that, the Hebrews understanding of “shalom” or “well-being included both physical and spiritual health.  Considering all the evidence, God shows us that he cares about the physical body and will restore it in the new heavens, so we should care about our bodies as well.  The physical really does matter.

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