Body Systems and Systematic Theology

I was in the gym a few weeks ago, trying my hand at some standard “dip” exercises, when in the middle of my set I felt that all-too-familiar “twinge” of a muscle being pulled.
I think we’ve all felt that little pull, and I would guess that we all think the same thing when we do: “Hmm, that was interesting,” and continue with our workout. Which is exactly what I did.

But there was one problem: I couldn’t continue my workout. I stepped down away from the bars and tested the motion of my neck and shoulders. What I felt was not good. I thought I’d walk it off so I headed up toward the treadmills but no dice either. The pain in my neck was so bad that I couldn’t even walk without it bothering me. That’s never happened to me before.

As much as I hated to admit it, I knew it was time to bail. I headed out to my car and on the way home I knew this wasn’t going to go away by itself. I had to go to the chiropractor.

I’ll spare you all the boring details (I’m feeling much better now) but it got me thinking about the body and the many complexities that we walk around in every day. Muscles, tendons, vessels, vesicles, nerves, cells, membranes, plasms, and on and on it goes. Even things as superficial as what we eat or apply to the surface of our skin can have huge repercussions on all the systems in our body.

Similar to our physical body, the body of truth that we as Christians embrace is extremely complex. Have you ever been in a sermon or read a book and after talking to another person about it wondered if you (or the other person) got some sort of misprinted book in the wrong cover or hears a different language than you? It happens all the time! Partly due to our personality differences for sure, but also due to the largeness and intricacy of the truth scripture and the various interpretations and applications.

Let me point one thing out, and I hope you’ll understand me (see what I did there?). Before I do, let me say that I believe no one can fully comprehend who God is or what he has revealed in his word. It is full of mystery and we could spend endless lifetimes plumbing the depths of the truth he has revealed. But as I have looked at the scope of the scripture (in my limited lifespan) there is one principle that sticks out: the highest end of God’s work and word is to reflect the glory back to himself so that he may be worshiped, honored, and loved by all of his creation. It begins with him and goes back to him, as Paul says in Romans 11, “For from him, through him, and to him are all things.”

The second principle found in the bible is this: that human beings (and created things in general) can flourish greatly under the blessing of God and conversely suffer greatly without it. Sin is a perfect example of this because it leads to death. Most people don’t want to die, yet we are all drawn to sin’s powerful pull on our lives and surroundings. Ironic.

What is apparent to me is that sadly many people, sermons, songs, and books prefer to focus on the secondary reason for God’s doing everything (our benefit) and not the primary reason (his glory). It’s like food. Food was given to us first for our nourishment and second for our enjoyment. While some foods give cause to doubt this (Tiramisu? I mean, come on, that one HAS to be made just to ENJOY!), we get into lots of trouble when we mix the order of these purposes and pursue food for pleasure despite our nutritional needs.

What I want us to do today as Christians, is to work to look past our own immediate needs and see God’s great passion for his name and glory. He is God, after all, and the only one who is qualified to do everything to make himself look awesome.

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