If everything “material” was removed, what would we have left? That which is spiritual and eternal. So, how important to you is that which is purely spiritual and eternal?
There is a “pattern” which God has established in creation to show us this. Let me begin with this explanation from Paul, regarding the resurrection from the dead: “What is sown is perishable; what is raised is imperishable. It is sown in dishonor; it is raised in glory. It is sown in weakness; it is raised in power. It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body. If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body. Thus it is written, “The first man Adam became a living being”; the last Adam became a life-giving spirit. But it is not the spiritual that is first but the natural, and then the spiritual” (1 Cor. 15:42-47, emphasis mine).
Simply, everything in creation, including ourselves, which is physical is pointing us to something much deeper, and to the spiritual. Whether it is the seed of a tree or plant going into the ground, dying, and resurrecting as a great Oak or as a flower. Or all physical life and death in general. And specifically, all the patterns which we see in the Old Testament from what happened in the Garden of Eden regarding a physical fruit tree, and fig leaves as a physical covering, until God gave them physical Lamb skins to “cover their sin.” Or Israel being freed from physical slavery in Egypt (representing a future spiritual freedom from sin), and from a physical slavery in Babylon (representing Israel and our own continual backsliding and “lukewarmness” and Idolatry which we are so prone to fall into. Yet when humbled, we find mercy once again). Or the physical Tabernacle and Temple in Jerusalem which “represented” what Moses saw on the mountain which was truly spiritual (and is Jesus Christ). There are SO many “physical patterns” in the Old Testament law and prophets which point to something spiritual that I wouldn’t know where to start. But I do know that God, who is Spirit and invisible, to our physical eyes purposely uses that which will perish to explain that which will last. And this pattern throughout scripture is a trademark of the Holy Spirit. God has always used “types and patterns” in the Old Testament to point to something in the future which is spiritual. And doing a study on this is incredibly eye opening specifically regarding prophecy. Anyway, my point in this post is to direct our attention off that which will perish and onto that which will last.
Just this sentence speaks volumes regarding what the Christian life truly is: “But it is not the spiritual that is first but the natural, and then the spiritual.” While Jesus walked this earth He walked in a “bag of dirt” for a shell. But when He rose from the grave He walked as a “New Creation” (2 Cor. 5:17). And at Pentecost, it was the Holy Spirit which gave “life” to the bodies of the saints in the upper room. Our bodies are temporary vessels of clay; our spirit and soul are eternal. I must insist that without the spiritual as the “true” focus and purpose of everything we do, we are living in vanity and for “dirt.”
But what is the key to gaining this perspective as a way of daily life? The key is humility. It is through literally trading in the physical for the spiritual. What this looks like is: giving up, and throwing away, the things which hinder intimacy with the Father by the Holy Spirit, and quality time spent in the Word of God. It comes through getting really, really honest with ourselves and God. It means taking the step to assess where our “treasures are,” in heaven or on earth. It means asking ourselves: if everything physical was removed, would I still be “me”? Is our identity tied to the physical or tied to the spiritual? What makes me, me? Where do I find my worth and value? In my looks, home, career, kids, retirement, pleasure, vacations, cars, or in the eternal Spirit united with my spirit in my inner being through Jesus Christ, meaning, as a “child of God.” These questions simply get us to ask, “how real is Jesus” to me. So, if this physical world is in competition with the spiritual world above, where Christ sits enthroned at the right hand of God. Then it would be wise to consider why.
I do confess that as I look around me and notice those things going on in churches throughout America, I think a lot of “Christians” are lying to themselves. I hear one thing but see another. I do know those who are deeply seeking the Lord. But those who are deeply seeking the Lord are living lives continually…”looking up.” I recently read this statement: “Are you working for money, or for God. Because if you are working for money, you are not following Jesus and you will stumble.” I know the concern of “income,” and in general, the concern of the physical, whether it be health, or any other thing, is a preoccupation and distraction in the Church at large in America. And these “concerns” truly are “footholds and traps” from Satan which tangle the Christian. And unless we stop and examine our lives and priorities, we will continue down the wrong road.
So, I want to end with this: Jesus said what? Seek first His Kingdom and righteousness…and all these things will be added unto you. Therefore, if we humbly acknowledge our lack in this life and our complete dependence on the Lord. Confessing our love of the world if we have been living for the physical. And choose to throw off every weight of sin and hinderance holding us down from following Jesus. Humbly recognizing that apart from Him…we have nothing of value. Because everything in this world, including our health and physical bodies will perish. But that which is spiritual will never end.
This is freedom