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The body: a guide for occupants

Nov 3, 2022

As a junior high school student, the author Bill Bryson was told by his biology teacher that all the chemicals which make up a human body could be bought in a hardware store for US$5. Questioning this figure, later in life Bryson sought to find out if it was correct.

Britain’s Royal Society of Chemistry had done the research for him. As part of the 2013 Cambridge Science Festival, the RSC calculated how much it would cost to assemble all the elements necessary to build the actor Benedict Cumberbatch (he was the guest director of the festival and considered a human of typical size). Altogether, according to the RSC, the cost of the elements required at the time to build a human being was $151,578.46.

Like Bryson, you might be astounded that we are made up of just a collection of inert components, the same stuff that you would find in a pile of dirt. Famously, the Bible tells us, “Then the LORD God formed a man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man become a living being“ (Gen. 1:7).

Perhaps you don’t think about too much about your body unless something goes wrong with it. However, the Bible has a lot to say about our bodies. Psalm 139 declares that we are “fearfully and wonderfully made”. We are created by God. He knows us better than we know ourselves. We are built to find our identity in him and to live for him. Therefore, our bodies matter.

He knows us better than we know ourselves

So with these things in mind, over the next six Sundays, we’re going to explore what the Bible has to say about our bodies. Borrowing from Bill Bryson’s book title, this series is called, “The Body: A Guide for Occupants”. However, this series won’t be about the science and physiology of the body. Instead, we’ll be exploring questions of purpose and meaning. Why are we here? What’s my body for? Why is my body broken? What is gender and sex? What does the gospel mean for my body? What’s my body’s future?

You could say this series is a biblical anthropology. We’ll explore what the Bible has to say about our bodies in the context of the Bible’s storyline of creation, fall, redemption, and glorification.

As is often the case, the Bible will question our assumptions and convictions. It will certainly challenge the opinions and values of that our world has about the body. We need to be prepared to be unsettled as we seek to put ourselves under the authority of God’s word.

Occasionally through this series, I will recommend resources for your further exploration. From the outset, I highly recommend Sam Allberry’s excellent book, “What God has to say about our bodies”. As always, I want to encourage you to prayerfully prepare for Sundays by reading through the Bible passages beforehand, and afterwards talking with one another about what God is teaching you.

Alex McCoy
Vicar

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