I did it this morning. You probably did too. Squinted at myself in the mirror, disheveled hair and not-quite-clear skin, and rendered a verdict: too pimply, too wrinkly, too fair, too dark, too lumpy, too pointy. You and I, we may not have said it consciously, but, in a word, what we said was, “Ugly.”

We don’t say it consciously—ugly—but most of us live as if our bodies are unpleasant to look at, let alone live in. We judge ourselves not just as falling short, but as actively offensive. Offensive to ourselves, to others, to God. (That’s the definition of ugly, by the way: “unpleasant to look at; offensive.”)

What’s worse, we normalize this judgment, talking about it casually over coffee with girlfriends or putting a pious sheen on it by making it a prayer request. We want to lose weight, we need to eat more healthily, we want to feel better about ourselves. We need the strength, the motivation, the belief in ourselves to change. Help us, Jesus.

But Jesus isn’t going to help us reject our bodies. Those kinds of requests are the exact opposite of both why and how he came into history. It’s a part of the gospel that we’ve somewhat forgotten in our modern contexts, something foreign to us because we’re so far from the time Jesus lived and breathed and walked the earth.

God’s salvation work for us came in a body, taking on the very stuff we’re made of—flesh and bone, breath and dust. The radical work of Christ didn’t just reach down from on high to save our souls; he invaded the very material we’re made of, that we might have hope of redemption in the here and now (Colossians 1:27).

If that doesn’t blow your mind just ...

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