In a society that places immense value on physical appearance and intellectual ability, we’re bombarded daily with ads that prompt us to enhance our physical appearance, and we regularly hear of people who are constantly altering their God-given physical attributes in efforts to “perfect” themselves. (Who hasn’t heard about those Ken and Barbie look-alikes?)
We’re advised daily on how to tighten up all our soft spots and smooth out all our rough spots. There seems to be an ideal body weight that we should strive for when we step on the scale or figure type that we should see when we look in the mirror. In times past, one could maintain a certain blissful ignorance about one’s attractiveness or lack thereof, but today’s technology, which allows us to freely share all kinds of information, has taken things to a different level. (Know of any singles who’ve applied to the online dating service, BeautifulPeople.com and been successfully voted in?)
We can be just as obsessed with the workings of the mind. There are as many people seeking intellectual prowess as there are on a quest for physical perfection. The ideal person, according to societal standards, is endowed with both beauty and intelligence, and usually doesn’t require much more to be placed on a pedestal by others.
Unfortunately, because the spiritual essence of one’s being can’t be gauged quite so easily, it is generally seen to be of little significance and of lesser value. The tendency is to place a higher value on that which is visible to the human eye, even though it is the spirit, at the center of our being, which determines greatly what we choose to do with our minds and our bodies. Both the evil and the good that we see and experience in our world reflect the spiritual condition of its citizens.
Just as our physical body requires proper nourishment to grow, the same is true with our spirit. If we want to live a well-balanced life, we should seek to be healthy in spirit, soul, and body – and in that order, not the reverse. After all, we can be certain that our physical bodies will one day cease to exist, and we have no idea how long we will be able to rely upon our minds, but it doesn’t take much to see that almost everyone, regardless of the nature of their faith, believes that our spirits will live on forever.
My paternal grandmother, whom I visited just a few months before her passing away in 1993, was an excellent illustration of this. Little did she know how great an example she was to me during the brief time I spent with her. With little understanding of any of the goings-on around her, she repeatedly asked my grandfather who I was, and nodded and smiled at me with a blank look each time he replied that I was her granddaughter visiting from Canada. She was bedridden and had a nurse who attended to her physical needs daily, but I was impressed by her peace, joy, and the degree of her spiritual devotion as, at different times throughout each day, she looked up, smiling, at the ceiling of her room, singing or reciting spiritual songs and thanking God with incredible (perhaps supernatural?) energy.
I saw a similar display of passion and confident expectation with my maternal grandmother less than a few years later. She, too, had deteriorated physically and mentally, but remained strong in spirit.
Due to their faith, both women seemed peacefully assured that they had much to look forward to upon departure from this life. According to the Bible, God has placed a sense of eternity in all our hearts, which could explain why so many people throughout history have believed in some sort of afterlife, regardless of the nature of their faith.
When we trust God with our lives, we find that our love for the things of this world diminishes as we see less and less through human eyes (naturally) and increasingly through the eyes of God (spiritually). Consequently, our priorities change and we are no longer quite so obsessed with worldly, temporal issues, but rather with matters of a more spiritual and eternal nature. It is God who imparts to us a desire to please Him and to appreciate the things He values. We are otherwise more concerned with pleasing ourselves. If we’re ever in doubt that we’ve got the right priorities (according to God’s standards), we need only ask of God; He reveals Himself to willing hearts.
Unlike the world, God does not accept or reject us based on our appearance or abilities. His love for us is not shallow – it far exceeds our wildest imagination; for in His eyes, we are valued far more than the human mind could ever conceive.