You are God’s Temple

Friday, March 2, 2012 — Week of 1 Lent

Chad, Bishop of Lichfield, 672

Today’s Readings for the Daily Office (Book of Common Prayer, p. 953)

Psalms 95* & 40, 54 (morning) 51 (evening)

Genesis 40:1-23

1 Corinthians 3:16-23

Mark 2:12-22 *for the Invitatory

[Go to for an online version of the Daily Office including the scripture readings.]

There is a deep peace in the brief passage from 1 Corinthians today. Paul offers a very “high view” of our humanity. First he tells us that we are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in us. We are tabernacles of the divine. Of course, Paul articulates an ancient tradition when he says this. Genesis insists that we are created in the image of God.

Every human being is a word of God to the world. That reality is part of the reason why we are prohibited from killing another human being, as Paul remarks today. “For God’s temple is holy, and you are that temple.”

But Paul continues to keep the focus where it should be, on God and on God’s indwelling presence. We are dependent and finite creatures in whom God dwells. He cautions us from “the wisdom of this world” which is foolishness to God. Instead, Paul insists that “all things are yours… All belong to you, and you belong to Christ, and Christ belongs to God.”

Christ has given us all we need in the radical acceptance that is God’s gift to us — justification by grace is the theological word Paul uses for that reality. We are God’s. We always have been; we always will be. We live in God, and God lives in us. We don’t have to become something we aren’t. We don’t have to prove anything. We don’t have to use the world’s standards to compete for and claim the world’s symbols of success, security, esteem or power. All is given. All is well and all manner of things shall be well, as the mystic St. Juilan of Norwich said.

Within that security of being God’s temple, having been given all — which is God’s unqualified grace and love — we are free. With that freedom, we can do what God does — love and heal. We are free to care for others extravagantly, to reach out to others compassionately, to bring the good news that everyone is God’s temple.

Later on we’ll get into some of the frustrations Paul lives with when people fail to see the presence of God within themselves, and live arrogant and selfish lives. Sometimes it is hard to see God’s image in others. But Paul gives us today the fundamental truth that echoes from Genesis: You are God’s temple, and all things are yours.

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