Belief is not 'merely' what I once thought: culminating in a purely cognitive or spiritual exercise. Belief is meant to be embodied: lived out with every straining fibre of our whole Self – the mind, the body, the spirit.
How many times have we heard good things, good news and simply do not believe it? That we intellectualize it into a neat cognitive box or out of possibility? Or romanticize it to the point that in dissolves into something euphorically intangible and superficially sentimental?
I do this all of the time - particularly, in relation to my faith, where I read one thing and am perhaps even passionately convicted by it, but distinctly believe in my body it’s antithesis; I continue living out what could be called a lie (though very much tangible in reality), and dismissing Truth.
I’ve been meditating on this for the last few weeks, and here’s the verse. We can look at it together,
The spirit is indeed willing, but the flesh is weak. - Matthew 26:41
If you, just as myself and I ascertain many others, have traditionally read this with an interpretation that justifies the imposition of guilt inspired, stern self-regulation toward improving personal piety, than: Good news! There is no end to the fullness that God’s words can speak to us. There is more.
This verse well defines a very literal problem – a disconnect between the indwelling and an outworking of Christian faith. Often, we sequester our faith lives into the interior recesses of our beings rather than wearing them upon our sleeves (or foreheads, or wrists), because, most likely, we have grown up into the prevalent understanding that faith is equal to the spiritual and/or religious which belongs to the personal domain. An untouchable, unrecognizable faith, imperceptible to the scrutiny of anything or anyone else; a faith we internally mediate to satisfy our personal whims and needs - the delight of every individual.
But here, though this verse certainly indicates that there is a failing on the part of the body to work out one’s faith (and how humbling that is), belief is anticipated to be externalized in our bodies – our lives. Embodiment is part of belief. The ramifications of this are stunning. We are ushered into a community of embodied believers.
The last several months have meant a renewed, deeper pursuit of living out Christ in my superficial myself. I know - sounds highly mysterious and, even perhaps like a retreat back to a disconnected, intangible ‘spiritual’ discourse meant to bolster a believer with a sense of being above reproach. I'll be upfront with my confidence, Jesus Christ. A man who existed in history; sharing with you, and me the common experience of living, walking, and breathing on this earth. And He also spoke real words – words that more often than not confound me, not because I need to be some sort of hyperspiritual person to interpret them – but because I am often unacquainted the glories He speaks of in my common experience (i.e. most recent: not including myself to possess the dignity innate to humanity, because it has not been understood as part of my concept of Self, and thus not lived out in my body). This ignorance presses me to want more understanding – not for knowledge sake, but in rhythm with the will of Him Who came to offering the strength we so lack. Strength to possess body and belief.