Embodiment

I like the word, embodiment. (It means to put a mint in your body. No, it doesn’t. That’s not even funny.) It means to make something real, to take it into yourself to the point that it affects you, to embrace. I don’t know what the origin of the word is, but it strikes me as a great Christian term. It’s what God did through and in Christ. It’s not a safe, or an easy word. The implication is that whatever it is that you are doing is going to affect you, change you, make a difference in your life, in your body. We again, and again look for ways to change the circumstances around us, but the change that mostly needs to happen is internal. There’s no other way to transformation. 

Our great problem, of course, is we don’t want transformation. We want salvation. We want to be fixed. We want the magic pill or the silver bullet (or the silver pill and magic bullet).  These things really don’t exist. What does exist is the path of transformation, or as Kierkegaard said, “a long obedience in the same direction.” If there is a main reason our churches and religion are not influencing culture, it’s because we, for the most part, are not interested in a long obedience in the same direction anymore. We want a relevant, fast, strong, converting, saving, spectacular experience. BTW, it’s the same thing the world wants. We are no different. Young people walk away from the church because they intuitively understand that we’re offering the same thing! It’s the commodification of the Gospel. The world says, “Buy this toothpaste. It will make you smile better, and give you a better life. It’s what you need!” The church says, “Get Jesus. It will make you happy and give you a better life. It’s what you need!” Well, of course, Jesus is what we need, but not that kind of Jesus. We need the real Jesus. The one who helps us see that the worship of the pragmatic, and the successful quick fix is masquerading as a form of idolatry. The real Jesus doesn’t just fix us. He patiently, lovingly walks with us down the road while we embody virtues that help us to become more like Him. That journey winds up breaking more than fixing me. 

So, what are you embodying? How are you taking prayer, that long, and sometimes awkward communion with God into your body? How is your serving ethic, in a context of a society that wants to serve itself, changing you? How is radical hospitality in a world of divisions and walls personally affecting you? Are you into embodiment? Or are you playing it safe?