The Discipline of the Body, Part One

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  • A television commercial shows a man springing out of bed, racing down the stairs, gulping a cup of coffee, snatching up coat and briefcase, and exploding out the front door.  The message:  “The day can’t begin soon enough for a man compelled by a single aim in life.”  He’s a Bache broker.  He can’t wait to get to the office to find out what’s happening on the market, but grabs the kitchen phone and asks, “How did we open in London today?”

    The lust for money and power moves men when a bulldozer wouldn’t move them otherwise.  They will punish their bodies, spending most of their waking hours sitting in an office chair, then working out furiously in a gymnasium or on a jogging track, eating tiny breakfasts, tremendous “business”  lunches, and high-calorie dinners, all in order to get ahead in the world and enjoy some of its pleasures for a season.  

    Holiness has never been the driving force of the majority.  It is, however, mandatory for anyone who wants to enter the Kingdom.  “Aim at . . . a holy life, for without that no one will see the Lord.”  

    “For you know what orders we gave you, in the name of the Lord Jesus,” wrote Paul to the Thessalonians.  “this is the will of God, that you should be holy:  you must abstain from fornication, each one of you must learn to gain mastery over his body, to hallow and honour it, not giving way to lust like the pagans who are ignorant of God. . . For God called us to holiness, not to impurity.”  

    Discipline, for a Christian, begins with the body.  We have only one.  It is this body that is the primary material given to us for sacrifice.  If we didn’t have this, we wouldn’t have anything.  We are meant to present it, offer it up, give it unconditionally to God for His purposes.  This, we are told, is an “act of spiritual worship.”  The giving of this physical body, comprising blood, bone, and tissue, worth a few dollars in chemicals, becomes a spiritual act, “for such is the worship which you, as rational creatures, should offer.”  

    **Excerpt originally published in “Joyful Surrender: 7 Disciplines for the Believers Life” pg. 43-44.