In Simply Jesus, N.T. Wright says, “Jesus was, as it were, a walking Temple. A living, breathing place-where-Israel’s-God-was-living” (p. 133)
I love that concept. Jesus, in his life here on earth, was the embodiment of heaven and earth, the location were God dwelt in all his holiness in and amongst humanity. And he spent his life explaining that to people who were not all that ready to hear it, perhaps. The Temple in Jerusalem was the only real place to be in touch with God, most people probably thought. But then Jesus said, “Follow me!” And he showed them “a more excellent way” (1 Corinthians 12:31).
Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body. 1 Corinthians 6:19-20
Each one of us is a walking temple as well, a place where God dwells. So what we do with that body needs to reflect the reality of the holiness that resides there because of Christ’s sacrifice for us.
As Christians, we cannot in good faith harm our bodies or show disrespect to them. Our bodies are a gift from God, so we should show glory to God through them.
That means using our bodies, as Jesus did his, going off by ourselves to fold our hands and pray to our heavenly Father, using our legs to walk into the house of God, using our eyes to read the Scripture, using our mouths to proclaim the Gospel to others.
This is not always easy to do in our “me-focused” society that tells us to do whatever you want and whatever feels good. With a barrage of less-than-God-pleasing images on the Internet beckoning and innumerable commercials enticing us to live for ourselves, it’s no wonder that God has taken a backseat in the lives of so many.
This is when we need to remember that we, as Christians and as living temples of the Holy Spirit, are different. We “go against the flow.” As St. Paul tells us, “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God” (Romans 12:2).
We need to do all that we can to remind ourselves of our status as living temples that are designed to reflect the wonderful will of God and focus on him. Every thought, every action, every word should serve as a kind of stained glass window into the sanctuary of our souls, where Christ is a permanent resident.