Living Free in the Spirit of Christ

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The Spiritual Body

Mia Michaels creates a spiritual experience

Mia Michaels creates a spiritual experience

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Published on: Oct 15, 2009

I became a fan of “So You Think You Can Dance” last summer. I was drawn in by the incredible artistry of the routines created by the professional choreographers for the top 20 elimination. Mia Michaels proved herself to be the consummate artist creating one great performance for the dancers after another.

This video from the Wednesday October 14th broadcast of the Las Vegas eliminations caught my attention as a matter that the Church has disregarded and confused in errant theology. As you can see by the dancers statements, her choreography transformed their lives. It may not be obvious from these testimonies, but as an athlete who has been involved with acrobatic dance for the last 30 years, I understood them completely.

The Church has struggled with the spirituality of the body throughout its history. The body has been regarded as the source of “the flesh”. The Gnostics viewed the body as pure evil, whereas only the spirit was good. For many in the Church a carnal Christian is one who is focused only on the material and the sensual pleasures of the body.

Some preachers have made the claim that the body is only an “Earth suit” which our spirits wear in this hostile environment like the astronaut suits worn in lifeless space. At best they regard the body as a neutral entity, but of the least importance.

This is wrong. If the body were not important, then why would Jesus be resurrected in a body that saw no corruption? Why is it the hope that we, too, will be bodily resurrected? Are we looking for a new “Earth suit” that will be shinier and prettier, not wearing out? The bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ is a fundamental doctrine of Christianity for a reason. The body, like the Holy Spirit, is integral to our beings as persons just as the Holy Spirit is a person integral to the being of God.

Dancers and athletes are often highly spiritual people. I say this knowing that many in the Church narrow mindlessly define spirituality as being in communion with God. That is the highest spirituality for sure, but it is not the only form of spirituality. Everyone has a created human spirit. Being sensitive to one’s own human spirit makes that person spiritual, even though they do not have the new birth. Because those people can sense their own spirit they can often sense demonic spirits who masquerade as god, which is why so many performing artists embrace the New Age spirituality. It is foolish and insulting for Christians to deny their spirituality, even though they are not connected to the Living God in their experience. But that does not stop God from touching them, as well, in their spirits even though they are not yet born again, either.

The human spirit is directly connected to our bodies. The spirit usually communicates through body language, and what is often called spiritual discernment is often just intuitive reading of body language. So artists like Mia Michaels are sensitive to the language of the spirit since its main medium of communication is body movements. Spiritual discernment in Christians, of course, goes beyond reading body language since the Holy Spirit will also provide discernment to those believers who are sensitive to Him.

In the gymnastics world where I am rooted there is a trampolinist named Dan Millman who wrote a series of books on the spirituality of gymnastics. Before I came to Christ I was very interested in reading his books, although I never got around to doing so. There was an NCAA floor exercise champion named Toby Towsen who had a dance company in New York years ago called, “Mussiwir.” His company was a spiritual performing arts company. Even as a pagan gymnast I could see his spirituality as I had experiences that I considered spiritual in training and performing myself. Any performer who gets into the “moment” of performing touches the spirit.

Later, as a Christian, I came to understand why being in the “moment” can be so spiritual. It has to do with the very fabric of creation itself. Consider space and time. They are the same creation but different dimensions of that creation. A point in space is considered dimensionless. Two points together creates a line and three points in a triangle creates a plane. This is also true of time, only the point is called a moment. As such a moment has no dimensions. Two moments creates linear time. The dimensionless space of a point and the dimensionless moment of time is eternity. Physical performers who do extraordinary movements do so because when they are in the moment they are in eternity. This is why the Bible tells us to be still and know that He is the Lord. It is in the quietness of and stillness of the moment that we become aware of God’s presence.

Moving in the moment is an intuitive experience. In a gymnastics skill, one does not have the time to think about what one is doing. One does the skill intuitively in the moment. A single high level skill can have up to 10 movements that have to be performed at the right time and in the right order in only one second for successful completion. That is only done at an intuitive level. Watchman Nee in his “Spiritual Man” series states that the function of the human spirit is to commune with other spirits (specifically, God); to provide a sense of right and wrong through our conscience; and to communicate in the spirit intuitively. Most of God’s communication to us as believers is by that inward knowing without words, which is through our intuition.

I own a Christian gymnastics school. The families in my business know that I am training their children in a holistic manner. I am not just training them in gymnastics stunts, I am training them to be sensitive to their spirits intuitively so that they can hear God. My training program is total for the body, soul and spirit. Our bodies are not simply “Earth suits”. They essential to our very beings as humans.

Because Paul told Timothy that bodily exercise profits little, but rather that he should exercise godliness which is profitable in this life and the life to come, we tend to think that caring for our bodies is unimportant. However, I think Paul was speaking to Timothy in the same manner that Jesus was to the Pharisees when Jesus said to them that they should tithe their mint, but also should observe the weightier matters of the law in justice and mercy. As Jews under the Mosaic Covenant, Jesus was not telling them to stop tithing, only to recognize and act on the more important spirit of the law. (By the way, tithing was part of the Mosaic covenant, not the new covenant of Jesus Christ. I am not an advocate of tithing, but I am advocate of giving.)

So Paul was not telling Timothy not to exercise his body, only to keep his priorities right. If God did not care about the body, why did He give such extensive directions in the dietary laws to the Jews? I do not keep Kosher, but I now use the Levitical directions as a general guideline for my own health. If Jesus did not care about the body, why did He heal so many people of bodily afflictions? After all, the body is only a temporary thing, isn’t it? Not! The body is permanent.

Everyone is going to be bodily resurrected. Everyone will have a physical body for all eternity. For believers we will have a glorified body, but those who reject the salvation of Jesus Christ will be in their earthly bodies forever in the lake of fire where the fire is not quenched nor the worm dies. What a horrible existence that will be!

We should not disregard the spirituality of the body. We experience God by the sense of our bodies. We function in spiritual discernment through our bodies. We experience “the moment” in our bodies. Our bodies are an integral part of our beings. The Creation is an integrated creation where the physical and spiritual are different dimensions of the same creation. The flesh and carnality do not refer to our bodies, but rather to the dependence of our souls upon the bodies instead of our spirits. A carnal Christian is one whose mind is natural and not spiritual. It refers to our souls, not our bodies. The flesh is the choice of using our bodies naturally instead of spiritually. Fasting denies the body so we may focus on the spirit, but one must do so because of how the spirit is joined to the body. Being healthy is living a godly life in a healthy body with a renewed mind. Health is total, not partial. And spirituality is total not partial.

Post Script 10/20/2009
I neglected to make one more very important observation about the connection of the spirit to the body. Our hearts are joined to our spirits. Genuine discipleship is not in knowledge. Knowledge is of the mind and the mind is part of our souls. Discipleship is in our hearts. Our spirits are joined to the Lord (1 Cor. 6:7) thus are the new creatures and are holy. However, our souls are in the process of sanctification. That sanctification comes when our minds are renewed and our hearts are transformed. This can be compared to a computer with a hard drive (our hearts) and the RAM (our minds). What is in our minds is temporary. What goes into our hearts is permanent.

There is only one way in which our hearts are reprogrammed: by doing the word. It is when we do what the Bible and Spirit tells us that it becomes a permanent part of our heart. Doing is an action that requires the use of our bodies. If we forgive someone, the full effect is often not brought to pass until we go to that person in and speak to them, which is the use of our bodies.

Likewise, we can believe with our minds for a healing, but often that does not become a heart held faith until some action of faith is performed. Being a doer of the Word is the means for transforming our hearts, and thus our characters. It is a cycle of spirit to soul to heart to body to spirit.

Comments to Original Post

Kat
Submitted on 10/17/2009
Alex,

I read this yesterday and was struck by the fact that I felt some of this spirit-body connection when I was a kid. There were times when I felt clumsy and other times when something connected between inner self and body and everything came off without a hitch.

I’m starting to become much more free in a lot of ways having to do with spirit and body. There must be a jillion applications of this idea. Sometimes when I’m getting in shape, the thought strikes me that I’ll pay for this time I’m wasting. Now where does THAT thought come from?

Instead, I’m going to try to see the physical world as part of our spiritual heritage. Guess we’ve been tricked into devaluing it as something that “gets burned up in the end” along with other vanities.

Alexander
Submitted on 10/17/2009

Thanks for your feedback, Kat. I hope my post will help believers not be so closed minded regarding the spirituality of those in the performing arts. I think they can accept our disagreeing regarding what a higher spirituality is, but will turn us off if we deny the very real spirituality that they are experiencing.

D. Keith
Submitted on 10/18/2009

Alex,

Interesting article. I did notice that you study Watchman Nee. I have been reading The Normal Christian Life and love it! I would also suggest reading Classic Christianity by Bob George. These are two of the books that the spirit has spoken through to bring me out of a life of law and into understanding the grace of God through Christ!

Alexander
Submitted on 10/19/2009

Dylan,
Yes, I have many Watchman Nee books. I have not read Bob George’s book, but I remember his People to People radio show. I am glad you have come to understand the grace of God. Sadly even in denominations that proclaim the grace of God the still wrap it up in the law because of the religion they sell. I have left all of those things and live a Spirit led life that brings fellowship by His Spirit. I wish you the best in your performing arts career!

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