Brother Ass is the temple of the Holy Spirit

Brother Ass is the temple of the Holy Spirit so take good care of him.

Welcome to this second day of contemplation of the life of St Francis. I’ve entitled it “Brother Ass is the temple of the Holy Spirit.” Or perhaps yours is Sister Jenny.

I am sure you have seen a copy of William Hunt’s painting of Jesus standing at a door and knocking. Of importance there is no handle on the outside. He does not force his way in. Only we can open it and let him in. If not, Google it.

"Behold, I stand at the door and knock.

If any man hear my voice and open the door, I will come in to him and sup with him and he with me."

- Rev 3:20.

It is obviously a huge understatement to say that the day we first opened the door and welcomed Christ in was a turning point in our lives. Some things immediately changed. We could sup with him daily, our sins were forgiven and our place in heaven was assured. That’s not small beer.

Flamingo chick optStanding on one leg is precarious.

Having said that moving both feet out of the Dominion of Darkness and stepping into the Kingdom of Heaven, the imagery of Colossians 1 was probably for most of us very difficult.

One foot finds in itself joyfully, firmly placed in the kingdom of God’s Son but the other is rather more tardy and finds itself still hanging back.

St Paul takes the metaphor further. Whilst Christ never forces himself on anyone, we open the door but having come in, St Paul reminds us that we are no longer our own; we have been bought with a price. Our bodies now belong to God.

“Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, which you have from God.”

- 1 Cor 6:19.

This echoes the words of St Peter when addressing the Sanhedrin. “However, the Most High does not live in houses made by human hands.” (Acts 7:48). So if not in churches, cathedrals and synagogues where does God dwell? Why, in our bodies of course.

If you love God and have opened the door to Christ and welcomed him in, then your body has become a temple of the Holy Spirit.

God dwells not in that building designed by Herbert Baker, the Church of the Ascension; he lives in the hearts, minds and bodies of the people who worship there. That’s us.

Yesterday we heard the cry of St Francis, that his body, Brother Ass, is like a stubborn donkey; lovable, useful but so obstinate.

Again this echoes the words of St Paul in Romans 7. “But I see another law at work in me. Wretched man that I am; who will deliver me from this body of death?”

These are the experiences of two of the great saints, and of course John Bunyan’s Pilgrims Progress speaks exactly to the same theme.

Sloth, one of Bunyan's characters who fails to stay alert, finds himself lost in the Slough of Despond. This I would put to you is the way it is for all believers. We take one huge step forwards when inviting Jesus into our lives, a foot firmly placed in the kingdom but that other limb is such a laggard!

It takes a lifetime of living ever closer to him to get that other foot totally unresponsive to the Dominion of Darkness. Brother Ass is so stubborn! To the extent that sometimes we find ourselves despairing, trapped in Bunyon’s Slough of Despond.

Who will deliver me from this body of death? Thanks be to God, through Jesus Christ our Lord.

“The one who sows to please his flesh, from his body will reap destruction; let us not grow weary of doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we do not give up.”

- Galations 6

So Brother Ass and Sister Jenny are very stubborn. We are tempted to give up. It’s the experience of every Christian. Let us not grow weary, remembering that our bodies are the very temples of God.

And finally there is a stern warning from St Paul in 1 Corinthians 3.

“Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that His Spirit dwells in you?

God’s temple is holy, and that sanctuary you are.

If anyone destroys God’s temple, He will destroy him.”

Take home

So to sum up, our bodies belong to the Lord; they are his sanctuary, the place from where he rules. But it is the experience of every believer that Brother Ass is very stubborn; it is with great reluctance that he submits to the disciplines of becoming the holy temple of God, a place fit for Jesus to dwell. I think theologically it’s called the process of sanctification.

“No discipline seems enjoyable at the time but painful. Later on, however it yields a harvest of righteousness and peace; therefore lift your drooping hands and strengthen your weak knees today.”

God bless you today as you ponder these deep matters. We belong to Him and he wants an ever deepening relationship with us; it’s the only that way that we can be useful to him.

Brother Ass is the temple of the Holy Spirit

Brother Ass is the temple of the Holy Spirit but a war is being waged within; one foot is firmly placed in the Kingdom but the other drags its heel.

Brother Ass

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