I may have posted this one from Frederick Buechner before, but it’s such an important thought that it’s worth thinking about again. We cannot be so focused on the intangible aspects of faith–what we usually mean when we say “spiritual”–as to forget that, for Christians at least, the physical is ALSO spiritual. That is incarnation. We are always treading on holy ground, with feet as holy, however used and worn they may be. This part of creation–this earth we walk on, this air we breathe, the way we touch and interact with one another, bound by passing time — is every bit as important as what may or may not happen to our souls when we cease to be physical. It is more important to us now, because it is the condition we find ourselves in. We should care for it: the environment we live in, and for each other. Because if God cared enough about his creation to incarnate himself in a human being, then God’s Kingdom is not waiting for us in a fantastical “spiritual” realm: we are already living in it.
“THE WORD BECAME flesh,” wrote John, “and dwelt among us, full of grace and truth” (John 1:14). That is what incarnation means. It is untheological. It is unsophisticated. It is undignified. But according to Christianity it is the way things are.
All religions and philosophies which deny the reality or the significance of the material, the fleshly, the earth-bound, are themselves denied. Moses at the burning bush was told to take off his shoes because the ground on which he stood was holy ground (Exodus 3:5), and incarnation means that all ground is holy ground because God not only made it but walked on it, ate and slept and worked and died on it. If we are saved anywhere, we are saved here. And what is saved is not some diaphanous distillation of our bodies and our earth but our bodies and our earth themselves. Jerusalem becomes the New Jerusalem coming down out of Heaven like a bride adorned for her husband (Revelation 21:2). Our bodies are sown perishable and raised imperishable (1 Corinthians 15:42).
One of the blunders religious people are particularly fond of making is the attempt to be more spiritual than God.
– Originally published in Wishful Thinking