1 Thessalonians 4:1-8
Growing up, I spent many summers as a camper and a counselor
at Camp Rockmont in Black Mountain, North Carolina. I learned
much about myself and my faith during those summers in the
mountains. One source of life lessons came from our camp motto:
“Strength and Gentleness, Force and Refinement, Mastery of Body,
and Servitude to God.” Of those ideals, “mastery of body” was
the one I found most difficult to grasp. What does that mean to a
16-year-old? What does it mean for me now as a 36-year-old?
Writing like a pastor who loves his congregation from a distance, Paul’s letter to the Thessalonians addresses that early church’s disagreements and struggles over morality. Control your own body in holiness and honor, he tells them, for God did not call us to impurity but in holiness (vv. 4, 7). Realigning our moral compass is not just an ancient problem the church in Thessalonica must wrestle with. This is a reality we still face, sometimes daily.
Paul reminds us that our bodies matter to the Spirit that dwells
within us. We embody our faith. In Christ we live and move and have
our being. Because of this, there is a sacredness to each of us, our
minds, our bodies, our personhood. When we fail to see God in one
another, we risk objectifying each other, lusting after, exploiting,
wronging, and abusing our siblings. To master our body is to master
the way we see our physical lives and those of our beloved siblings.
What difference would it make to recognize our bodies as the
dwelling places of God?
How would your actions change if you truly saw your body as God’s temple? What keeps you from seeing others in a similar way?
Merciful God, forgive us for the times that we wrong others by failing to see them as your dwelling place. Help us to see your sacredness within us all. Amen.