Sunday school lesson for the week of July 6, 2014
By Beth Barnwell
Lesson Scripture: Corinthians 6:12-7:9
Key Verse: Don’t you know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you? Don’t you know that you have the Holy Spirit from God, and you don’t belong to yourselves? (1 Corinthians 6:19)
Purpose: To realize that how we treat our bodies, in which God’s Spirit dwells, is important.
The key verse is definitely the basis for today’s lesson, but another key verse is the very first one in the lesson: I have the freedom to do anything, but not everything is helpful (Corinthians 6:12).
This is a perfect lesson for this time of year since we are celebrating 238 years of freedom as a country. The lyrics to Martina McBride’s song, “Independence Day,” immediately came to mind when I read that verse. “Let Freedom Ring . . .let the white dove sing. . .let the whole world know that today is a day of reckoning.” Let today truly be a day of reckoning. Yes, we have the freedom to do anything we wish. God gave us that freedom when he gave us our free will – our freedom to choose. But – He gave it to us with the hope that we would do so in ways that would glorify Him – with our thoughts, our deeds, and our physical beings.
When Paul spoke to the people in Corinth, he was speaking to a community that didn’t necessarily recognize a difference between immorality and religious devotion. They didn’t understand that their actions might not be in accord with God’s idea of right and wrong. Anything and everything was acceptable in their eyes. Paul was trying to help them understand that, as Christians, that thought process was not acceptable to God. I’m not sure that today’s society is much different. Though we have the freedom to choose what we do and how we act, our actions always carry consequences; good or bad. We must understand and accept those consequences.
Enter – temptation: that which tempts or entices – usually in an unsavory way. As we begin to wrap our minds around the concept of our bodies being God’s temple, my initial thoughts lean toward how we treat our physical bodies and how temptation skews our freedom to make the right choices. I chose the word “unsavory” for a reason - I love to eat. I especially love to eat “party food”: Chips and salsa, cheese and crackers, peanuts and cashews. Notice that I did not mention anything like veggies or fruit. What happens when I omit healthy choices like that? I notice that perhaps the pants I wore last week don’t fit quite the same. Consequences. Had I chosen to eat more broccoli or apples, those pants would probably fit just fine. If my body is God’s temple, I run the risk of becoming a bigger temple.
What does your temple look like? Would it be pleasing to God? If not, what can you do to change that?
For United Methodist clergy, the insurance provided by the General Board of Pension & Health Benefits offers many incentives toward making healthy choices. A walking program is offered to encourage exercise; a survey is required every year to help us stay on track of what we eat, drink, etc.; and an annual Blueprint for Physical Wellness is encouraged (italics included for this writing only). This “blueprint” includes testing for blood pressure, cholesterol levels, body fat, weight. You name it, it’s tested. Individual choices are clearly reflected by the results and the physical temple in which God resides is uncovered. Good choices reflect a well maintained and pleasing temple. Bad choices probably reflect the total opposite. Thankfully, God allows “do-overs.” As scripture tells us in Jeremiah 29:11, God has plans for us, which include a future full of hope.
If there was a Blueprint for Spiritual Wellness, what do you think should be included?
It’s hard, and not always fun, being God’s dwelling place. Fun things and fun times are very tempting, but they are very fleeting. They are not long lasting. They are not eternal. God’s love for us and His promise of hope are constant. They are long lasting. They are eternal. He proves it by giving us the freedom to make our own choices over and over and over again. When temptation strikes, prayer should be the first thing that comes to our minds. If we seek Him, He will be there and He will help us make the right choices. If we remember that every part of our bodies belong to Him, eventually we will have a temple that fully reflects His glory.
What is your biggest temptation? How does God help you walk beyond the temptation?
Beth Barnwell is a staff member of the North Georgia Conference, serving as administrative assistant to the director of Congregational Development. She is a long-time Sunday school teacher. Contact Beth at firstname.lastname@example.org.