What would Jesus think about how he would look in a bathing suit? (Luminous Friday)

For my Friday posts, May is “body month.” It’s about how we relate to our bodies as spiritual people. This is in keeping with chapter four of Luminous, Being Present with Our Bodies…

It’s springtime, and I bet you have thought at least once about how you are going to look in a bathing suit this summer. Maybe you have thought about it once a day. Or maybe every hour. It could be, “Aw yeah, I’m going to look fine this year.” Or more likely it’s a panicky, “Crap – I can’t put on a bathing suit looking like this.”

I am in the latter category, and the thought has been on my mind more times than I care to admit. Are pastors vain? Please. Hopefully less vain every year as we grow in Christ. But it’s not like we don’t own mirrors.

The “bathing suit terrors” reveal how we usually think about our bodies. Our culture teaches us that our bodies are a way to present ourselves to the world. If we make a lean and fit presentation, we deserve a higher self-image. If we make a too-blubbery or too-skinny presentation, we deserve a lower self-image.

Ironically, when you go out in a bathing suit this summer, it’s unlikely people are going to say much, if anything, about how your body looks. You will be generating all that talk in your own head. You will prop yourself up or tear yourself down, depending on how you perceive your own body.

Now how far do you think this is from how Jesus thought about his body? Granted, they didn’t show much skin in his culture, so he didn’t have to worry about how his abs were looking. But the point is, he viewed his body as being valuable for completely different reasons. It wasn’t for raising or lowering his self-image. Rather, his body was the medium for living out his obedience to the Father.

Here’s a passage from Hebrews that tells us where Jesus’ value system was:

“Sacrifices and offering you did not desire,
but a body you prepared for me;
with burnt offerings and sin offerings
you were not pleased.
Then I said, ‘Here I am – it is written about me in the scroll – I have come to do your will, my God’” (Heb 10:5-7, quoting Ps 40:6-8).

I encourage you to meditate on and repeatedly pray this Psalm and see if it doesn’t help reframe how you relate to your body. Maybe it will even quell your “bathing suit terrors.”

In the Fridays during May, we will continue this discussion. How you rest, what you eat, what you do – it’s all important in your discipleship of Jesus.


Note: Throughout 2014, my Friday posts will be excerpts and thoughts from Luminous: Living the Presence and Power of Jesus (IVP, 2013). My hope is that these posts launch you into the weekend in a Jesus-centered way.

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