Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship (Romans 12:1, NIV)
This is the final in the three-part series dealing with worship. Today we will examine how our bodies play a vital part in worship, and how this can be done with specific examples.
In the body, soul, and spirit triad of Christianity, the body is often the most misunderstood and neglected part of worship, and also controversial. Many Christians are deists when it comes on to the body. Many believe that God created the body, and that it is His gift to us, but that God is not interested in the body, only the soul. They point to scriptures that speak about 'sinful flesh' and 'corruptible' bodies as evidence that the body is corrupt and unworthy. Ideas about the immortality of the soul also feed into this idea that the body is corrupted, but that the soul lives on forever in immortality. No wonder we have a negative view of the body!
The body however is very important to God, because without a body we just could not worship God. The fact of the matter is that the soul and spirit needs a body to function. No body= no active soul/spirit. Let me show you Biblically how this works.
This idea of a non-functioning soul/spirit without a body is best depicted in Revelation 6, under the fifth seal.
And when he had opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of them that were slain for the word of God, and for the testimony which they held: And they cried with a loud voice, saying, How long, O Lord, holy and true, dost thou not judge and avenge our blood on them that dwell on the earth? And white robes were given unto every one of them; and it was said unto them, that they should REST yet for a little season, until their fellowservants also and their brethren, that should be killed as they were, should be fulfilled (Revelation 6:9-11, caps supplied).
In this vision, the souls of the slain saints are crying out to God for vengeance. These souls are not seen in heaven enjoying bliss, but are 'under the altar.' Under the Old Testament sacrificial system, the altar was the place where the sacrifice was killed, and the blood would be sprinkled under the altar (Leviticus 1:3-5). In the above vision, the souls are neither active in the affairs of men nor of God, but are resting from their labors, until the number of their fellow martyrs is completed. Their work on earth is complete, but they are now resting by awaiting the return of Christ, who will reward them for their sacrificial deeds.
Then I heard a voice from heaven say, "Write: Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on." "Yes," says the Spirit, "they will rest from their labor, for their deeds will follow them"(Revelation 14:13).
So we see that souls existing without a body are basically dormant and not active in neither the affairs of earth nor heaven. Therefore, it is only when the soul meets the body that there is life - an active life. Nowhere is this shown more vividly than in the Old Testament account of Elijah and the widow whose son had died.
And he cried unto the LORD, and said, O LORD my God, hast thou also brought evil upon the widow with whom I sojourn, by slaying her son? And he stretched himself upon the child three times, and cried unto the LORD, and said, O LORD my God, I pray thee, let this child's soul come into him again. And the LORD heard the voice of Elijah; and the soul of the child came into him again, and he revived. And Elijah took the child, and brought him down out of the chamber into the house, and delivered him unto his mother: and Elijah said, See, thy son liveth (1 Kings 17:20-23).
The body is therefore important to the worship experience. Without a body there is no life, and the spirit and soul are left without a vehicle of worship. Our bodies belong to God and our bodies are God's temple ( 1 Corinthians 6:13-20). God lives within our bodies as a Spirit, and therefore our bodies are sacred temples of God's infinite presence. It therefore behooves us to honor our bodies, and to glorify God in our bodies, by our worship. Below are a few examples of effective body worship. Be creative and come up with some of your own and have fun with it!
Verbal expression - Singing, preaching, teaching, testimonials, praising God, praying.
Mental expression - Meditation, positive thoughts.
Body language - Lifting up hands in worship, dancing before the Lord, kneeling, bowing, closing the eyes, clasping the hands, deep breathing, being still before the Lord.
Physical artistic creativity - Dancing, theatrics, performances, religious art, writing, drawing.
Sacred sexuality - Physical expression of God's love shared between husband and wife, that results in a spiritual union with God (I will deal with this topic on subsequent blogs to show the spiritual aspects of sex as a sacred act).
Fasting - denying the body food or certain pleasures for a short time to achieve spiritual connection with God.
Here ends my little series on worship. I hope this helps each and every one of you to have a more fulfilling worship experience, using all three parts of our being, by engaging the whole person - body, soul, and spirit.