How often we make simple mistakes because we have failed to focus completely on what needed to be done. We caught the front wing of the car on the bollard, we missed the appointment clearly written in the diary, I tripped over a brick edge and almost re-wrote my face. We’ve all done it!
So this week we reflect on focus in our Christian lives, and how we can train ourselves to be faithful followers of Jesus.
v 27. I discipline my body like an athlete, training it to do what it should.
There are two extremes in our attitude to our bodies. The first is to put a huge investment into it. The Gym, the Workouts, jogging, swimming, tennis, walking … heigh-ho, I’ve got to keep fit, look in shape, watch my weight, etc. The other is to think the body doesn’t really matter; after all I am a spiritual being and I am going to focus on that aspect of my life. The body is a tent, a temporary dwelling, and in the light of eternity it doesn’t really count for much. Surprisingly perhaps, Paul has a very high view of our bodies.
Don’t you realize that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who lives in you and was given to you by God? You do not belong to yourself, for God bought you with a high price. So you must honour God with your body. (1 Corinthians 6:19-20) That does not mean that I must join the quest for ‘The Body Beautiful’, but that I manage my body rather than the body managing me. It means that when the alarm goes in the morning I can say to my body ‘Get up!’ and it obeys, and when faced with a full table of food at a buffet meal I can say ‘Enough is enough!’ and leave the chocolate pudding for someone else. Paul is encouraging us to be in control of our physical appetites (food, exercise, sex etc) and not allow them to control our actions.
It is no coincidence that the spiritual discipline on the list for this month is Fasting, the discipline where I learn to say ‘NO’ to my body and keep my food intake in check. We do not fast to avoid the health risks of obesity but in order to learn to keep our physical appetites under control and allow God to rule even that part of our lives.