(Click here for a video of John reading this Catch.)
“I don’t deny… that there should be priests to remind men that they will one day die. I only say… it is necessary to have another kind of priests, called poets, to remind men that they are not dead yet.” – G.K. Chesterton
Jesus didn’t go around cursing his flesh all the time. He sanctified it by the way he lived. He came not to negate life, but to live it. Jesus was connected to the Spirit of God and to his own humanity at the same time, and he found no conflict. If Jesus Christ was not fully human, then we cannot be fully saved and there is no ultimate hope for our humanity but to discard it completely and try something else. This is not what Jesus did. There is no “something else.” This skin I live in is it for me, and it is what Jesus came to redeem.
This remarkable fact is echoed many times throughout Scripture: Jesus Christ came in the flesh; Job declared that “in my flesh I will see God”; a man and wife become one flesh in marriage; and Paul declared that the life he lives in the flesh he lives by faith in the Son of God. These are arresting statements when you consider how much it has been taught in evangelical circles that “in the flesh” was synonymous with sinning.
In truth, when the Bible talks about the negative aspects of the flesh, it is referring to the weaker element in human nature – the unregenerate state of man, the lower, fallen nature. It is not talking about skin. Flesh as a principle to live under is wrong; flesh as the skin I live in is right. It’s the body I’ve been given that will be raised with Christ. It’s the very image of God that I bear along with every other human being who’s ever lived on this earth. It’s the mortal body that can be given life through the Spirit. The flesh is me, and should I choose to have it so, it can become the very temple of the Holy Spirit of God.
I was ordained a number of years ago in a small private service with family and a few friends. During the service, the minister asked anyone who had a word from the Lord to speak up. I was surprised that a ten-year-old Chandler had a word, only it wasn’t a word, it was two words: “blood” and “skin.” That was it. Quite profound, really. I’ve thought back on those two words often and have found different meanings over the years, but my main take is that blood represents life and faith, and skin is what is real about me in this world. When Chesterton says we’re not dead yet, he’s saying that life in this skin can be sanctified. It can be made holy. Not pious, but sacred.
This is me. This is all me. Grab me; pinch me. This flesh is me. This spirit is me. When I sin, it’s me sinning. When I glorify God, it’s me glorifying. It’s me here and I am choosing all the time what I am going to do with me. I am responsible. Cut my heart open and you won’t find a throne room with a miniature devil and angel playing musical chairs, you will find a heart beating for whom it wants to beat.
As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord through the power of the Holy Spirit living in us.