What's It All About? "Body and Soul"

YOU CAN HAVE IT ALL, our culture says. It's the solemn promise of our times. "Hey, it's my life; I can do what I want with it." "It's my body; I'll do with it as I will." "Say, how about we have wild Saturday nights (or at least the memories of them) and worship-wonderful Sunday mornings!" That way we can satisfy body and soul, though never the twain shall meet. That was old Corinth's way. But we know the game. Afterall, I did once serve in sweet little Frostburg, Maryland. That small, sleepy village has held at least two Guinness records. One for producing the world's longest hotdog, but that's over a mile long and another story. The other was for simultaneously possessing both the largest number of bars and churches per capita! We couldn't decide whether the saints needed church on Sunday to repent of Saturday, or the thought of church on Sunday drove folks to drink on Saturday night! Either way, it was a case of wanting to, "Have your keg and drink it too!" There's a two-ness here. A division of body from soul. God's entitled to this much of me, and no more. I can separate real life from church life. 'Spirit life from daily life. I'm part accountable, part on my own. I belong to God in Jesus Christ… partly. Is there anybody here who doesn't know what I mean? (Hands up?)

Ahhh, this is a special day! Today we offer three fine medicines for healing the two-ness in your life and mine. Jesus on the lake. The temple in our everyday lives. The meal at the Table of the Lord. Together they help us to see what it's all about. Body and soul, we are one with God, one with Christ, one with each other, and one in ministry to all the world, 'til Christ comes in final victory, and we feast at his heavenly banquet.

Let's go to the lake. Folks are pressin' in to hear the Word from Jesus. 'So much, he hops in Peter's boat. They row out a little. After "church", Jesus says to Peter, "Put out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch." Peter says, "Master, all night. nothing! But at your word, I'll let down the nets." They come in filled to overflowing. Two boats worth! Says Peter, "Awesome! Jesus, get clear of me. I am a sinner." Jesus replies, "'May be, but from now on, you and I, your brother and your crew are partners. And we'll be fishin' for souls, startin' with yours!" Now, get this. They left everything and followed him. This is a story all about oneness. Not the many-ness of the crowd. In fact, their pressing-in-to-hear expresses their desire to be one with Jesus and one with God through his Word. If you have the same desire, lean in, lean forward, strain to (really) hear, every time the Word draws near …to you. This is not about the two-ness of the boats required to bring in the catch. It's about being one with Jesus. 'About Jesus' command to be one with the deepest depths of God's provisions for us. You and I fish shallow every day. "It's my life; I can do what I want with it." We only fish deep when we go deep with Jesus. That's when life gives up all it has to give. When was the last time you fished deep with Jesus, at his Word, and netted more than you ever imagined? When we do, some of us get scared. We know we're not worthy. We separate from him. But he says, "No two-ness. You and I and your crew (here, at NBUMC), we're partners! Are you ready to partner with Jesus? If so, it'll be a work of putting bodies and souls together. With each other, yes. But more, with Christ!

What's it all about, this life? It's about loving God in Christ, body and soul. 'Nothing reserved or denied to God. Long after that day on the lake, believers just like us gathered in far away Corinth. Like the "Burgers" I served, body and soul became like Indy & Chicago (Superbowl) fans. Never the two shall meet. Business is business; church: church. How I roar around the house is my business on my time. I'll get to God at bedtime prayers. I'll drink if I want; I'll light up, I'll eat up, I'll wolf down, I'll join the other kids being way-too-intimate, way-too-early. I'll stay up too long at night, and I won't wake up my muscles for exercise all day…. Because after all, it's my body and I'll do with it as I will. My soul's one thing. My body's another. (I've already fished the shallow waters and come up empty.) Well… that's not what the Good Book says! To those two-for souls at Corinth, Pastor Paul writes, "Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, which you have from God? You are not your own; you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body."
One soul embodied. One holy soul, bodily housed. Not two. One. And all for God in Jesus Christ.

Our bodies, God's temple. We've heard it. We say we believe it. But I suspect we don't fully grasp it, and we clearly do not live it. Now Paul didn't say we're God's synagogues, nor churches, but God's Temple. The very, absolute place where God lives. Radical! The location where heaven and earth touch. At heart, the Holy of Holies! And the very spot where sacrifice makes forgiveness real and new life possible. Even: inescapable. (We are the cross of Christ walking on the world for all to see.) That's who we are in Christ. What kind of housekeeper are you for God? We may not all need a reprimand, but a reminder seems in order. Oh, I could nag. I could sound like the Surgeon General, the CDC, the Vegetarian Counsel, Drug Free America. The American Medical Association, the fitness folks, or your grandma! Or maybe The Society for Healthy Marriages, or AA or AAA, or Greenpeace, or the Sierra Club, or the Salvation Army. I'd rather not. I don't wanna pick on anybody.

But when I see 25 guys, Giant Food Store Managers, flock from the hotel where UM's retreated last week… so these mostly young grocers can catch a smoke in the 22 Degree morning air, I wonder if they know: you are the place where God lives. His Temple. When pressured teens ponder sex I wonder if they know about intimacy, tenderness, commitment. Do we teach them? I fear we do not say or do enough to let kids know intimacy is of God's plan for honoring and nourishing our soul. It's the seal of a very big deal. It says, there are no air bags or ejection seats between us. We're finishing the ride we've begun, potholes, accidents and all. We're burnin' the bridge (Lucado) between our house and momma's so nobody's runnin' home. We're gonna treasure fallin' into each other's arms at day's end, even more than onto each other's organs. We intend to live out what the Bible's very first Book shouts out about. Gandpa/ma Adam and Eve, why, "They were naked [before God and each other] and not ashamed!'" I wonder. Do we know we are God's Temple when we talk to each other. Home. Highway. High School hallway. The store, the office, the phone, the church parking lot at meeting's end. Proverbs says God hates 6 things. One: a lying tongue. (6: 17) The tongue of the righteous is choice silver. (10: 20) The tongue of the wise brings healing. (12: 7) Paul relates it to the heart, "If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love… (I Cor. 13: 1). James says, "If any one thinks he is religious, and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his heart, this man's religion is vain." "The tongue is a little member and boasts of great things. How great a forest is set ablaze by a small fire!" Our appeal today is simple. Know that you are where God lives in Christ Jesus. Get in touch with that holiness. Ask yourself in all you feel, think, say and do, can God in Christ be at home in this?

Two-ness is not God's plan for us. Not with him. So when God sends God's Christ, God offers an extraordinary affirmation that we are the place where God will live. Jesus says to us, "This is my body, take and eat…." And, "This is my blood, shed for you and for many…. Take and drink, all of you!" Our traditional worshippers sing Jesus like this, "I'll live in you if you'll live in me; I am the Lord of the dance said he." Our Contemporary friends, sing out, "Lord reign in me." You and I can't come to his table without taking him with us. In us. Of us. No more visible, tangible expression of our oneness with the Father through the Son than this: the bread and the cup. Body and soul. Together. In the deeper waters, Christ's partners. To the recesses of our being, his temple. At his Table: joining everyday living and dining on heavenly hope.

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