Fr. Stavros N. Akrotirianakis is the Proistamenos of St. John Greek Orthodox Church in Tampa, FL. Fr. contributes the Prayer Team Ministry, a daily reflection, which began in February 2015. The Prayer Team now has its own dedicated website! Fr. Stavros has produced two books, “Let All Creation Rejoice: Reflections on Advent, the Nativity and Epiphany”: “https://amzn.to/2t1rXwh and “The Road Back to Christ: Reflections on Lent, Holy Week and the Resurrection.” https://amzn.to/2WAcfG0
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.
I Corinthians 6: 19-20
One of the best books I have ever read is entitled “It’s Not About Me” by Max Lucado. The basic premise of the book can be understood from the title. Life is either about me (us), or it is about God. Either God or me is at the center of my life. Either God or me is the focus of my life. There can’t be two centers, or two central foci. It’s one or the other.
The 11th chapter of that book is entitled “My Body Is About Him”. And it talks about how we glorify God (or not) with our bodies. It also has the best case for sexual purity that I’ve ever read. The introductory paragraphs to this chapter are very powerful and I want to share them with you:
You’re acquainted with house sitters. You’ve possibly used one. Not wanting to leave your house vacant, you ask someone to stay in your home until you return. Let me describe two of your nightmares.
The house-sitter redecorates your house. White paint is changed to pink. Berber carpet to shag. An abstract plastic chair sits in the place of your cozy love seat. His justification? “The house didn’t express me accurately. I needed a house that communicated who I am.”
Your response? “It’s not yours! My residence does not exist to reflect you! I asked you to take care of the house, not take over the house!” Would you want a sitter like this?
You might choose him over nightmare number two. She didn’t redecorate; she neglected. Never washed a dish, made a bed, or took out the trash. “My time here is temporary. I knew you wouldn’t mind,” she explains.
Of course you’d mind! Does she know what this abode cost you? Both house-sitters made the same mistake. They acted as if the dwelling was theirs. How could they?
(It’s Not About Me, Chapter 11, pgs. 109-110)
The body, the mind and the spirit work as one cohesive unit to make up the human being. When one part is not honored, the others are dishonored. So when our eyes take in what is not pure, our minds and our spirits go to impurity. And we are not just talking about sexual things. We overindulge in food, in alcohol, in movies and in many other things. And in so doing, we lose our sense of purity, and replace it with a sense of gluttony, which then becomes a sense of entitlement.
Our bodies are gifts from God. They are temporary, just like life is temporary. The only permanent thing in our bodies are our souls. The souls are permanent. The body protects the soul. The eyes, the ears, the mouth, the hands, all of them are supposed to be used to enrich our souls. God has placed a soul into each of our bodies at our conception. At our death, our souls will go back to God, where He will judge each soul worthy to be with Him, or unworthy to be with Him. This is our destiny. Each of us will face this at the end of our earthly lives. Our purpose then is to use our lives so that our souls glorify God, radiate God and are ready to meet God and be with Him forever.
Because we are a combination of body, mind and spirit (soul), all work in concert together. When the body overindulges in food and becomes uncomfortable, the mind becomes irritated and unfocused and the spirit cannot reflect God. When the body overindulges in alcohol or drugs, the mind does not function properly and the spirit cannot reflect God. As an aside, the sin that occurs when we overindulge in alcohol or drugs is that we are rendered incapable of loving our neighbor. If a person is inebriated to the point that they would be unable to render assistance to someone in need, they have now crossed the boundary where sin has occurred.
Because we are a combination of body, mind and spirit, we have to work hard to honor all three, realizing that none of them belong to us. They are all essentially “on loan.” There will come a time in each life when that loan is due or the lease is up, so to speak. And what will we have to show God for His investment in our lives.
God gave each of us gifts and talents that we are to use to glorify Him and help one another.
Perhaps it is because we don’t understand that our bodies are really the shells that protect our souls. Or we don’t understand that our bodies are gifts from God, entrusted (loaned) to us. In terms of setting boundaries and holding fast to them, we’ve all got to do a better job with guarding how much we eat, how much we drink (not too much alcohol, enough water), how much we exercise, how much we sleep, how much we relax, how we manage stress, how much we work, all of it.
Saint Paul writes that our bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit. I know how meticulously we keep the church that I serve in. We vacuum, dust, clean and sanitize it often. We keep it in good repair always. When something needs to be repaired we fix it. The temple we worship in is not any more precious than the temple of our own bodies. The church I worship in doesn’t contain my soul. My body does. So as we clean our churches and our houses and our cars, we have to remember to keep our bodies in good shape, physically, mentally and spiritually.
Lord, thank You for the gift of my body, my mind that thinks, my eyes that see, my ears that hear, my mouth that speaks, my hands that move, my feet that walk, my heart that beats. Help me Lord to honor You with these gifts today and always. Help me to focus my mind on Godly things, to keep my body in shape with proper food, drink, exercise and rest. Help me to discipline what my eyes see, what my ears hear, what my mouth speaks, what my hands do and where my feet walk. Help me to make my body and my life more about You than about me. Amen.
Our bodies are not ours, they are His! So we have to make them more about Him than about us!