As I read Paul’s letter to the Romans recently, I could not help but notice that the Apostle references the human body in a number of ways as he communicates the essentials of the Christian faith. He writes that if we confess with our mouth and believe with our heart that Jesus is Lord, we will be saved (Rom. 10:9). Later, in chapter 12, he writes, “Offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship” (Rom. 12:1), and immediately after this directive and comment, he writes, “Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing, and perfect will” (Rom. 12:2). By referencing the various aspects of the whole person, Paul reinforces Jesus’s command to “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength” (Mark 12:30).
Appropriately, Paul moves from the “living sacrifices/renewal of the mind” directive in chapter 12 of Romans to reminding readers that the church is comprised of one body with many members. Each member is endowed with a spiritual gift, and a study of the short list of spiritual gifts in chapter 12 reveals that some gifts are more “mind” oriented, some are more “hands-and-feet” oriented, some are “mouth” oriented, and some are more “heart” oriented (Rom. 12:4-8).
In a book that many scholars label as a theological treatise—a succinct doctrinal textbook for the church at Rome—it seems appropriate that Paul would reference how individuals are to worship and serve God with their entire being. It also seems appropriate that such a message is communicated in a letter with a quantitative center that deals with the Holy Spirit and God’s sovereignty. Chapter 9 is a theological explanation of God’s sovereignty, and chapter 8 is an explanation of how we are able to conquer sin because the Holy Spirit lives within us and is able to influence mind, action, and condition of the heart.
As I start my second semester at Warner, my reflection on Paul’s whole-person emphasis in Romans has given me a greater appreciation for Warner’s faculty and staff. Our faculty work hard to help students be transformed by the renewing of their minds, overlaying knowledge and filtering information from academic disciplines with the wisdom of biblical Truth. Our athletic coaches and Exercise Science faculty work hard to help students see that the bodies they have been given are precious and remarkable things, that we honor God with the proper care and maintenance of our bodies, and that athletic competition is as much about the celebration of what God can do in us and through us as it is about winning contests. And our Student Life staff work hard to help students exercise the gifts God has given them, finding ways to help students engage in leadership endeavors that celebrate their strengths, whether they are geared toward mind, mouth, heart, or hands and feet.
In short, Warner reflects what Christian education is supposed to be. We take pride in educating the whole person because God made the whole person and wants devotion from the whole person. In order for broken societies to be made whole, they need people who are whole. Warner thus plays an incredibly important role in a culture that desperately needs healing.