The first time I read in scripture that my body was the temple of the Lord, I felt like an apology was in order.
I was anything but fitting as a dwelling place for something holy, mainly because I suffered from too many "too manys." Too many distractions while praying. Too many justifications for repeated sins. Too many cinnamon rolls and too many excuses for not exercising.
I was a temple of something, all right, but it seemed impossible that it could be the Lord. In reality, I felt like a colossal failure when it came to living up to any spiritual, faith-filled expectations required to live a holy life.
Perhaps that's why I loved reading King David's journals, the scriptures we refer to as the Psalms, where he wrote, not as one who had it together, but as one who trusted that God was working inside him in spite of his flaws. David seemed to have the secret: You won't always do the right thing; you won't always be faithful in your walk (or for some, your crawl); you won't ever read or pray enough; you won't conquer every threatening mountain and you won't ever be what you aspire to be. Yet God is faithful ... no matter how much guilt we continue to heap on our unworthy heads.
The majority of people I meet feel inadequate. They have created a spiritual measuring stick that causes them to think more about their badness than God's goodness. Consequently, they feel they can never perform enough to receive God's blessings. David understood the root of that lie. He knew that pleasing his Father had nothing to do with a designated spot for prayer or a set amount of minutes devoted to trying to get God's attention, but that it was all about God reaching out to love David right where he was. Just like He wants to do with you and me. Yet far too many of us focus on our problems and our weaknesses instead of looking at what our Creator wants to do with us. From the inside out.
When we ask Jesus to be our Lord, a new creation is born within us. We become God's temple. The old nature is gone; the new nature -- the God nature -- takes root. And that's where the conflict occurs. God can't sin, yet He indwells us fleshly beings who do err, and when we allow that sinful nature to trump what God is trying to do, we live defeated Christian lives.
Fortunately, hope is not lost, for we know that when we feel we are disappointing God, that's the God part working inside us to pull us toward moral victories. C.S. Lewis, the great theologian and scholar, wrote that the very thought of that inner moral compass made him turn from his atheistic beliefs and realize that there was a higher power at work.
The key is that we must never give up and that we must come to understand how precious we are to our Heavenly Father. The truth is, in these mortal bodies we will never have it together, but God will. In Psalm 119:8, David cried out, "Oh God, please don't give up on me."
The good news? He won't. He can't. That's His promise: "I will never leave you nor forsake you," we are told. Get that? Never. No matter how much we sin because His temple is not for rent or for sale. It's His permanent dwelling place.
If you haven't already done so, maybe it's time you invited Him to take up residence. Oh, yeah, and don't forget -- no apologies needed.