November 30, 2012

Illness affords a glimpse of glory

A brief battle with bacteria does one good thing; it reminds me of my mortality. It also reminds me that my body is not my own; it was bought with a price and now belongs to Jesus Christ.

In the context of writing to a church situated in a city filled with idols, Paul reminded the Christians at Corinth that their bodies also belonged to God. Instead of spending any time in any type of idolatry or even associating with those who did, Paul exhorted these Christians to remember that they also were not their own.

And what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For you are the temple of the living God. As God has said: “I will dwell in them and walk among them. I will be their God, and they shall be My people.” (2 Corinthians 6:16)

As I think about these things and the weakened state of my body, I feel very aware that the life of Christ and the power of the indwelling Holy Spirit is in me, but separate from this shell where that He has chosen to live. The body is just that, a dwelling place. It is dispensable and one day will serve out its usefulness and die. But I will not.

This is the strange thing about this session of being ill. While weak and sleeping for most of the past 72 hours, I was aware of the life of Jesus Christ, and felt content, even joyful. There seemed a separation of what was happening to my body and my true life, my spiritual life. I was not moaning and complaining (this surprises me) nor deeply concerned that I was missing a few days that could have been otherwise occupied. 

Being the temple of the living God is a most assuring thing. As Ephesians 1:13-14 says, it is God’s seal that guarantees my destiny, like a down-payment guarantees the final purchase. Because of that, I can relax and not be concerned about what happens to my body. First of all, it isn’t mine anyway; it was bought with a price (1 Corinthians 6:19-20) but more significant, it is temporary. One day I’ll get a new one that will last forever.

Behold, I tell you a mystery: We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed— in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. (1 Corinthians 15:51–53)

My assurance? Jesus Christ died and rose again. Because He lives, and because He lives in me, I will do the same. That certainty grants me a deep assurance of my victory over death and the grave, even over a few bacteria that would rather have me worried and complaining than rejoicing.

Thank You.

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