Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Have some sense

When someone comments on my rather leisurely gait in consuming a meal, I tell them that "I like to enjoy my meal with all five senses, so it takes longer." While I say it in jest, there's a deeper principle involved that applies across the board.*

The principle involved is this: worshiping God is an earthy experience, meaning it's not just a mental attitude or heart orientation. We worship God with our bodies, too (Rom. 12:1). And because God gave us five senses, it only makes sense that we should use five senses to worship Him. If all of creation testifies to God's glory (Rom. 1:20), this must include our little senses as well. In giving us these earthly bodies, God made them look and function a certain way. The nose smells things, the eyes see things, the ears hear things, the tongue tastes things, and the hands touch things. Jesus was born into flesh and blood, and he had five senses with which to glorify God.  So we must glorify God with our senses. It can be done, and it must be done. But how?

We were given the senses so that we might experience things. And scripture speaks of the senses as a way to experience the goodness of God. "Taste and see that the Lord is good" (Psalm 34:8). "Hear the word of the Lord..." and so on. Read John's vision of the new creation, and you will discover that it is a reality of sensory overload. We will use our new bodies (and their senses) to experience the presence of God for eternity. So the ultimate purpose of the senses is that we might fully worship of God.

In the here and now, though, our senses remind us that God created everything in the universe, and that this universe is upheld by the word of his power (Heb. 1:3). When we see a sunset, smell a flower, taste good food, touch the rough, course dirt, or hear the rain pounding on the roof, we experience the kindness of God in creating and sustaining these things for our enjoyment. And His kindness is meant to lead us to repentance (Rom. 2:4). But repentance doesn't end with merely turning your heart away from false worship. True repentance redirects our entire beings to true worship of the living God. So it stands that, rather than for worshiping the created things, our senses exist as a means to worship the true God by experiencing creation in thankfulness and gratitude. You don't give your compliments to the meal for being tasty; you give your compliments to the chef for crafting something so enjoyable. And so it is with us—we give thanks to our Father in heaven for creating such wonderful things for us to enjoy, with all of our senses.

* Pun alert: the "board" is what they used to call the table in pre-Renaissance England, where people sat on the floor and placed their meal on the board. So, when I say it applies "across the board" in reference to the previous thought, I give a little chuckle. It's interesting where our phrases come from, isn't it?

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