Sunday, October 1, on the Epistle of St Paul - 2 Corinthians 6:16-7:1
As the human beings were created, it says in the first book of the Bible, that we were created in the image of God. God gave us a soul, which is unique only to the human beings, and He gave us a free will, for us to follow Him and to love Him by our own choice.
As we read through the Old Testament, we find out that human beings can be God’s chosen people, His servants, who do His bidding here on earth. Israel was chosen by God to prepare the whole world for the coming Messiah, Who would release us from the captivity of death, and give us a chance to become His communicants, both in this world and in the age to come.
That Messiah is, of course, our Lord Jesus Christ, Who in His public ministry revealed that we are also God’s sons and daughters. Not only His image, not only His servants, but also sons and daughters. As sons and daughters of God, our Heavenly Father, we inherit that which He possesses, namely the Kingdom of Heaven. It is ours, the doors are open, if we want it, if we desire it.
And we are not just physical beings, there’s more to us than meets the eye, and all this is by God’s design. St Paul tells us today that we are also something else. He says, “We are the temple of the living God.”
In the Jewish tradition there was only one Temple, in Jerusalem, and you couldn’t just walk in there, you had to go through rituals of purification before setting foot on the first step of the Temple. The Temple was the holy place of God. No filthy or defiling things, for example statues of idols, were allowed inside. A holy place must remain holy, and it’s holy because it’s dedicated to God.
In our Christian tradition, the churches somewhat preserve this tradition of the Temple. We don’t have any statues of animals or people in the church…The saints are different. We don’t worship the saints, we venerate them and ask them for help, but it is Christ Who helps us through them…Sometimes even the flag can be too much, if it deters our attention from prayer and our focus on Christ.
But what St Paul talks about has nothing to do with the church building. Just like the Temple in Jerusalem, every church building, eventually, will waste away because, as we know from experience, and as Scriptures remind us, everything in this world is temporary.
“We are the temple of the living God,” St Paul says, and then he quotes God from the Old Testament saying, “I will dwell in them and walk among them. I will be their God, and they will be My people.” Our body is this temple of God, He not only created us in His image, but He gave us His Holy Spirit to dwell in us and to guide us on the path of righteousness.
God dwells in us so that we would be holy, as He is holy. But He can’t be in us, if we fill our bodies, both physically and spiritually, with all sort of filth, nonsense, and idol worship.
Think about some of the things that poison our bodies? We over-indulge on information – news, sports, entertainment, politics – like that will somehow make our life better.
Or how about addictions? Smoking, alcohol – they directly kill the temple of the living God, our bodies. Or all sorts of sexual addictions. The whole society, and Christians are no exception, is immersed in sexual immorality – fornication, adultery, pornography, masturbation. Sex is one the gifts from God, and we completely and absolutely misuse it.
Or how about direct idol worship? “American Idol,” anyone? We have lost the fear of God so much that we don’t even hide the fact that we’ve become pagan. We idol worship different musicians, movie stars, politicians, athletes, or even some of our friends or family members. We follow them, we read everything we can about them, we become obsessed with them. If I read the Bible as much as I read sports articles, I would probably go through the Bible 3-4 times a year.
It’s all madness!
And I am not even talking about our addiction, obsession, and worship of money.
“What agreement has the temple of God with idols?” St Paul asks us today…There is no agreement! If I put an idol in my heart, I leave no space for God. If I indulge in obsessions and addictions, my body becomes the temple of devil.
That’s why St Paul exhorts us to “cleanse ourselves from every defilement of body and spirit.” Cleanse ourselves because God has promised to be our Father, and we will be His sons and daughters. Cleansing our temples of the living God is like washing muddy hands – we get the soap and scrub and scrub until it comes off. There is no shame in admitting that we may be filthy. But there is shame in trying to pretend that we are ok on our own.
If we have addictions, seek help! Ask Christ for guidance and seek professional help while there’s still time. If we are obsessed with some fake Hollywood star, stop! Become obsessed with our Lord Jesus Christ. Learn to pray, learn to read the Bible, learn to spend time one-on-one with God.
Let Him be our God, and let us be His people.
Unless otherwise specified, the articles here are posted by Fr Aleksey, who has no sense of humor and is extremely straight forward.