About a week back I heard for the very first time our bodies referred to as, “mansions for the residence of God.” The thought of human bodies, the make up of flesh and bones had never appeared to me in this form. That verse from 1 Corinthians always flows near, the one that says, “your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you,” but the replacement of mansion and the additional word, residence, allowed me to view this verse with more clarity.
While I have digested this sentence, I have come to realized, you don’t compare mansions. If we are able to grasp the personification of a mansion, we could conclude, it would not be looking to contrast itself to the lawn of the neighboring mansions or attempt to compare its brick external to the white paint across the way. It would simply stand firm in confidence, aware it was designed as it should be. And the fact that is was a dwelling place, would be enough to satisfy the soul of this mansion.
I want to be clear, that I believe within the truth of maintaining our bodies as temples, there is great obedience and discipline in running, hiking, etc. to move the bodies we were given and honor the Lord through them. There is also love poured out as we nourish our bodies with food that grows us both in body and in years. Our human error in this, is that our brokenness has allowed us to move not for the glory of the Lord, but for the acceptance of man, which is an endless chase, an exhausting, unnecessary, natural, endless chase. In Galatians we are convicted of this very lifestyle- “For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ.” Our brokenness has also allowed us to place our physical state above our internal state in terms of value.
The vast majority of the time I am trying to please man. Because it is our most natural way of going about, as is comparison and ranking our beauty based on what we see outwardly, both on ourselves and others. But the Lord says No. “But when they measure themselves by one another and compare themselves with one another, they are without understanding.” (2 cor. 10:12) We are without understanding. Because if we could clearly see through the Lord’s eyes, there would be no comparison in this world. If we could see through His eyes, we would say, “Yes, I am fearfully and wonderfully made, knitted together in my mother’s womb, made as a representative of light and goodness, made as a storyteller of grace. Yes, I am chosen and a place of residency for the Lord as He rejoices to dwell in my place of fickle love with His steady heart. Yes, I am a mansion, as we all are. Yes, I am chosen, as we all are. Yes, I am far too loved to base my daily worth on my daily external appearance, as we all are. So I will bask in His delight, because He came to stay. He wiped His feet on my welcome mat and sits upon the couch of my heart, dancing between the kitchen and living room of my soul, cleaning out the attic of my old ways and leaving me notes on the mirrors in the bedrooms in which He has painted white, “Made in the image of your heavenly Father.”
I saw a picture of my mom a few days ago when she was eighteen. Today, I think we look somewhat alike but in the picture, I could see just how her face shape has transferred to mine and how similar our features are. We look alike because I am made in the image of my mother. And because I see my mom as beautiful and good and humble and kind, I must believe that if I was to be made in her image and a fraction of both her external and internal beauty were to be placed on me, I would also have to mark myself with these words. The same goes for the Lord, in all ways intensified to the infinite degree because He is our Father and Creator. In verse 26 of Genesis Chapter 1, “God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness.” Then we see that, “God created human beings in his own image. In the image of God he created them.” The phrase, “in the image of God,” has power we overlook far too often. When flesh coated the Lord, we saw a human form of God in Christ, He was the most attractive, the kindest, the most humble, the most truthful, the most, the most, the most of all positive adjectives we can think up. And if we are made in the image of Him, that is enough for all of our days.
God is not an ignorant Lord. He knows we struggle to find contentment is our earthly bodies. But He also knows they are not our eternal bodies. They are only our bodies of one hundred years or so and in the midst of eternity, that is miniscule. It is true that, “We grow weary in our present bodies, and we long to put on our heavenly bodies like new clothing. For we will put on heavenly bodies; we will not be spirits without bodies. While we live in these earthly bodies, we groan and sigh, but it’s not that we want to die and get rid of these bodies that clothe us. Rather, we want to put on our new bodies so that these dying bodies will be swallowed up by life.” (2 Cor. 5: 2-4)
We were designed with an eternity intentioned soul. We long for what is to come, far more than we are aware on earth. We desire our new clothing, for it will be of no flaw or dent. But as we are on the earth, we are called to be on the earth. And we come home, we are called to come home. So while we stand in the land of industrial cities and highways and brokenness, we must put on the clothing of our own flesh that was given to us in joy as it was hand crafted for us, becoming confident in the skin prepared for us as we claim our title as ambassadors of Christ. And as ambassadors, we must be far more focused on what is being presented, in the truth being told, in what is being represented in this world, than what we are to look like when presenting and telling and representing. When Jesus told of His known truth, He simply went out and told. He did not check the mirror fifteen times before going out.
If we have come to Christ and opened our mansion as a place of residency for Him- until we step foot into His mansion, we must know, these thoughts of comparison and self evaluation linked to our body and appearance is of our old ways. If we have come to Him, our old self is dead. If we have met with Him it is of truth, “At one time we thought of Christ merely from a human point of view. How differently we know him now! This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!”(2 Cor. 5:16)
We are new in Him, fulfilled with a new capacity to see our bodies as gifts from Him, while knowing they are not eternal. Yet our souls live on, so it is right for us to believe our souls have more value than our bodies and what comes into them and out of them have more power than a body. While we are called to present our, “bodies as a living sacrifice, holy, and acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service of worship,” (Romans 12:1) God holds our spiritual fitness as one of greater value as we are instructed, “train yourself for godliness; for while bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come.” (1 Tim. 4:7-8)
We are made in His image so we shall mark ourselves as designed with purpose and beauty. We are mansions for the residence of the Lord and shall follow obedience in all ways to honor Him, both in body and spirit. He is a God who knows our pain and suffering in our earthly bodies and promises us new clothing when we come to our eternal home in heaven. Yet, He calls us as of now, to be ambassadors of Him on earth and encourages us to be this in humility, not focusing our eyes on our flaws but on the cross, for our flaws are temporary and withering, but the news of the cross brings hope for eternal life. We are pursued to stand steadfast in confidence in Him, coming confident in ourselves as He constructed our being but knowing we do not belong to even our own being, but to Him, forever.