Hiking along the Power Line at Hell’s Gate State Park near Lewiston, Idaho, my wife and I encountered an interesting couple on the trail. Mary Ellen recognized the man as a masseuse at her chiropractor’s office. After introductions, he asked my wife, “How’s your body?”
In context, it was amusing. As the conversation continued, he made this claim: “Enlightenment comes through the body, not the mind.”
I had been rather agreeable thus far, but I could only half agree with his claim. I said that enlightenment can come through both.
He disagreed. “It comes only through the body,” he reaffirmed. I backed off. We affirmed our friendly greetings and resumed our respective hikes.
I was reminded of the time I heard a “prophet” named “Bob” in Nashville, Tennessee, tell a crowd of prominent Christian musicians to: “Lose your mind for Jesus.”
Jesus actually never asked anyone to be mindless for Him but that has not stopped many from trying. After all, thinking is hard while feeling is easy.
As for the masseuse on the trail, he used a false dichotomy to make an otherwise fine point. The pursuit of enlightenment should not ignore or dismiss the human body. Sad to say, false alternatives are an extremely popular way to stifle thinking. For example, consider the following statements I have heard recently:
- Christianity is not about church but about Jesus.
- Learning is not about books but about experience.
- Christians don’t go to church, they are the church.
- Faith is not about trying harder but loving deeper.
- Salvation is not about good works but God’s grace.
These popular phrases are rarely questioned. So let me be unpopular and ask, what about the “both” option? Consider Paul’s ability to affirm both the role of believers and God working in the salvation process:
“[Work] out your salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure.” (Philippians 2:12-13)
In the next chapter, Paul is able to root salvation fully in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ and still speak of his role in pressing on to “lay hold of that for which also I was laid hold of by Christ Jesus.” (vs. 12).
Don’t miss the word “also.” Paul can actively “press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus” (vs. 14) without signaling any notion of self-salvation.
In the same letter, Paul claimed citizenship in heaven (Philippians 3:20) without renouncing his Roman citizenship, which he once claimed to a centurion in Jerusalem (Acts 22:25-29).
How would you respond to the following dichotomous conclusions?
- This team is not about practice but winning championships!
- Christianity is not about service but about character.
- This hospital is not about medicine but health!
- The CD is not about music but inspiration.
- Character is not about moral living but a pure heart.
Here’s my response: “How about both?”