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Spiritual Life

Dualism: Reconciling our material and spiritual sides


At Union Presbyterian Church of Los Altos, we’ve been looking at 1 Corinthians for a few weeks now. Corinth, a Greek city on a narrow sliver of land in the middle of Greece, was already an important city when the Apostle Paul planted an important church there.

One of the issues the Corinthian Church struggled with was the Greek understanding of the world compared to the Hebrew understanding of the world. Because of dualism, which posits that a person is composed of a material side and a spiritual side (and further that the spiritual side is good and the material side is bad), some folks in the Corinthian Church were behaving quite badly but continued to say that their belief in Christ hadn’t changed. They still believed that He was God, but their bodies could do whatever and it didn’t matter.

Paul, on the other hand, like all good Hebrews, understood that a person is made up of a body, a soul and a spirit as one. Paul believed that what people do with their bodies affects their souls, and further that the Corinthians were to worship God with their bodies, not just their spirits.

Sometimes we experience a little dualism as well. We often do something that contradicts what we believe. We put someone down or gossip behind his or her back, but we don’t think of ourselves as bullies or gossips. We like to think that we are nice folks, but we make ruthless business decisions that cost others their profits and possibly their jobs.

I’m sure no one wants to be thought of as a thief or a liar, but some business practices should give us pause to consider whether we are just that, even as we cover ourselves with caveat emptor – let the buyer beware.

As Christians, we try to integrate our beliefs into all areas of our lives: home, community and business. If the worship of God is what we are to be about with our lives, then that worship permeates who we are, wherever we are, in whatever activity we are engaged.

Let me urge you to be a complete person, not fractured into pieces and parts, but complete in all that you say and do and believe. Don’t get caught thinking that what you do is different from who you are. What we believe will surface and be seen in the actions we take, the things we say, the way we treat others.

If you are not going to church regularly, there are many excellent churches in Los Altos. Get connected to one of them.

The Rev. David Moore is pastor of Union Presbyterian Church of Los Altos, 858 University Ave. For more information, call 948-4361 or visit unionpc.org.

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