Janie Cheaney: Blessed dust


NICK EICHER, HOST: Today is Wednesday, August 22nd. Good morning! This is The World and Everything in It from member-supported WORLD Radio. I’m Nick Eicher.

MARY REICHARD, HOST: And I’m Mary Reichard. The Apostle Paul wrote 1 Corinthians to confront immature believers.

Paul asks, “Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit” and therefore you should honor God with your bodies?

So if I believe the body is a holy temple: Am I a slumlord?

Here’s Janie B. Cheaney.

JANIE CHEANEY, COMMENTATOR: Once upon a sunlit spot of ground, God bent down and shaped a mound of dust. The elemental particles that made up the ground were already in place. So were the elements of a home: blue sky holding in a band of oxygen, springs of water welling up below, a sun making its stately march across the sphere.

“Dust” seems an odd medium for shaping, as it doesn’t stick together. But by divine will it did, its Maker considered it beautiful. At the end of his work, God bent down even further and breathed life into the form—“And man became a living being.”

That breath made the vital difference, uniting biological life with soul; the immaterial that sets the material apart from every other form of animal life. But the body was equally vital, both to Creator and Creation. Spirit was not new; matter was. Matter was the thing declared “very good,” and the human body housing a conscious soul was its crowning achievement.

And we’ve despised it ever since.

With the fall of that first man, the human body lost its integrity: forever after in an uneasy relationship with the mind, or whatever we call that which transcends it.

Two current TV series demonstrate how technology could, in time, accomplish a complete separation of body and soul. In the Netflix series Altered Carbon, an individual’s memories can be saved on a digital device and installed into new bodies when the old ones wear out. In HBO’s Westworld, lifelike robots populate an old-West replication, where humans can live out their fantasies of unrestrained violence and sex.

Whatever the future holds, technology will not restore the integrity we’ve lost. But think back to that cleared spot of land, that mound of dust. In medieval times, dust was sometimes associated with the “fifth element,” or “quintessence,” that held everything together. Out of elemental particles that would not normally hold together, God shaped a body and breathed an immortal soul into it, with the knowledge that He would one day occupy something like this.

Christ’s body would be unassuming, and not especially attractive. But his Father loved it then, as a vessel of His mercy. He loves it now, resurrected and glorified. And He will love it through all eternity, surrounded by redeemed souls, in perfectly integrated bodies. The least we can do is love our own.

For WORLD Radio, I’m Janie B. Cheaney.


WORLD Radio transcripts are created on a rush deadline. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of WORLD Radio programming is the audio record.

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