Is Your Body Saved?
Is your body saved? That sounds odd. If I was asked if my soul was saved I would understand what was being asked (while taking exception to framing it that way). But bringing the body into it introduces all kinds of confusion.
Christianity tells us that we need saving. Various traditions understand that idea differently, but it is pretty much universally agreed that humans are fallen and need divine redemption. We need to be rescued.
Evangelicals, whose tradition I identify with, see the central mission of the Christian life as helping as many people as possible to have a saving experience with Christ. Conversion from the kingdom of darkness to the kingdom of light is an essential feature of Christianity. The slogan, “Jesus saves,” is referring to this idea. A personal encounter with God transforms an individual and “saves” them from the destruction of a godless life.
What is Salvation?
What is the nature of this salvation? What changes? What are people rescued from? A lot of ink has been spilled over those questions and how we answer them will largely determine how a Christian lives his or her life. Theology, rather than the arcane domain of stuffy academics, is eminently practical.
The emphasis on one’s soul in “salvation talk” shows that Christians tend to see the work God does is something that occurs on the inside of a person. Phrases like “new heart” and “new spirit” are used to describe the change God effects in someone. Unfortunately, and perhaps as a result from the influence of the heresy of Gnosticism, often the focus is solely internal and rather mystical. Someone who claims to be saved may be the only one who can tell.
Of course, there are a great number of testimonies of what a salvation experience does in the actual life and behavior of a convert. But there are probably equally (and maybe many more) examples of people who don’t seem to exhibit any change at all, and yet claim that their “heart” has been made new.
What to make of this will have to be reserved for a future blog post, but what I would like to suggest is that, regardless of how genuine a conversion experience is, the convert must experience a change not only on the inside, but also on the outside, in other words, in their body. Their soul must be saved, but so must their body. And active thought must be given on how to experience this body salvation.
This is where the spiritual disciplines come in. The spiritual disciplines are intended to not only nurture and shape our hearts and minds, they also are designed to bring our bodies under the authority of God. And coming under the authority of God, whether we’re talking about our soul or body, is precisely what salvation is all about.
I’ll explore all this in my next post.