By Hollie Ogden
“Your body is a temple.”
It’s a frequent phrase found in the New Testament and repeated throughout general conference addresses, sacrament meeting talks, young woman devotionals, and even everyday Latter-Day Saint conversation. If only I had a dollar for every time I was told that, growing up in the church.
It is explained simply in the scriptures. It is used straightforwardly in many other settings. Even Jesus Himself likened His body to the temple, comparing the prophesied destruction to His imminent crucifixion. But, in what additional ways are our bodies -including our minds- like temples?
“The Holy Ghost Which is In You,” 1 Corinthians 3:16-17,19
Paul explains we are like temples because the Spirit can dwell in us. We can house a member of the Godhead! However, our temple buildings are only considered set-apart and holy places after they are dedicated.
So, what does that dedication look like for us?
It is, to begin, the covenant we make at baptism. When we literally dedicate ourselves to Jesus Christ and promise Him our devotion and service. That is when we are promised the company of that very member of the Godhead.
Then, we rededicate and rededicate ourselves each week as we take the sacrament. And we continue living a life of consistent dedication- in our service, worship, learning, and other daily practices.
“The Workmanship Thereof” 2 Nephi 5:16
Our temples are made carefully, and with the best materials available. Each one is unique and made with its specific area in mind. Local culture is incorporated, embraced, and celebrated. It is used to glorify God.
Our Father has made us the same way; with close care. And we are made with individuality, culture, and with a purpose to glorify Him and His Son.
“By the Sweat of His Brow” Moses 5:1
Temples need maintenance- constantly!
I have had an opportunity recently to work up close with the Ogden, Utah temple. I have been astounded by how much labor, time, and resources go into maintaining everything: inside and out! From the light fixtures and fixing the laundry machines to mowing the lawns and pruning shrubs in every hidden corner, there is always work to be done.
We are no different. We are always working on ourselves: inside and out. We maintain our physical bodies with exercise, hygiene, and diet. We work diligently on the inside through service, prayer, and repentance.
Although they always seem perfect to an outside eye, the temples and their grounds are also subject to imperfections and the natural wear and tear of this earth. Like everything from the interior wood to the flower beds outside, we are in constant need of upkeep and renewal. Our minds and bodies are imperfect and subject to the failings of mortality. If only at night, we could sweep and clean as easily, regularly, and faithfully as the volunteer members who give their time to clean the temples. We could clear out our negativity, our stress, our impure thoughts, unkindness, back pains, headaches, and more. But we just keep working at it, making small, daily improvements on our personal temples.
Sometimes, we also may go through giant renovations in the form of personal trials or starting a new chapter of our lives. And when we go through our own conversion, we may find we are just as different as the old Ogden temple is from the new. That is the kind of change that is possible with Christ.