When Christians are health nuts, The Prequel

So I think it’s time to dust off this baby and get back to blogging…I’ve just recently completed a transfer at work, so my energy and inspiration levels for writing have been a little low, of late.

But now? Now I’ve got another little series for you…

And this one? This one may just be my passion – that thing that makes me come alive, that gets neurons firing, that makes me launch on long soap-boxes to my poor husband whose heard my sermons repeated, oh, ten thousand times.

I think he can recite them word for word.

See, I’m really passionate about getting people healthy. Like, vibrant, the body-is-a-miraculous-creation type healthy. And I’ve been interested in health for a long time – probably over a decade now that I’ve spent researching and reading everything about healthy living that I can get my hands on.

But do you know the sad thing? Most of the materials I read are NOT from a Christian worldview. In fact, with the exception of a small handful of wise Christians (don’t worry, you’ll find out who they are), I don’t really know many people who are helping explain how healthy living fits within following Jesus.

In fact, quite the contrary. For centuries upon centuries, our church fathers have (mostly) taught us that the body is evil. You know, “the flesh.” That horrible, nasty thing we are chained in until we finally escape this imprisonment and float around heaven as free souls. You know, that awful body that wants to have sex and gets hungry and tired and distracts us from following Jesus.

You know. That one.

So, I’ve been witness to conversations throughout my life that go like this: “Oh, I don’t take time to exercise. That just takes time away from serving my family and my church and the Lord.” “Healthy eating? Why are you trying to live longer? The Lord’s going to make your day come when it comes. Nothing you can do to fight that!”

Psst. You want to know what I think?

That these perspectives are dead. wrong.

There are just a few people out there who are daring to say that being healthy IS, in fact, following Jesus. Care to be one with me?

I present to you my Manifesto for Healthy Living in Christ.

Yes, there are some sticky issues. Yes, this is going to challenge some things that you’ve always been taught/heard/thought. But hang in there with me. Because on the other side is the life that God intended for you to live when He made you.

BUT

There are a few things we need to talk about first before we dive into manifesto-ing.

Two, to be exact.

Because here’s something I’m even more passionate about than health: Truth.

And I want to make sure that we start this journey with the absolute right mindset.

Number One. God is sovereign, and He is on the throne. He is the Creator of the heavens and the earth, and he brings everything to pass as He wills, whether it be storms or droughts or prosperity or floods or spring or princes or princes’ decisions. Want some reassurance? Go dig into the book of Isaiah! The Lord, the Lord, full of strength and might and majesty and power is absolutely sovereign over the earth. And Him? This Lord of Heaven’s Armies? He is full of love, abounding in grace and Absolutely. Totally. Completely. Good. There is no one as loving, no one as merciful, no one as good as him.

That’s great, Jenni. What does this have to do with health?

Well…just about…EVERYTHING.

Because having an absolutely sovereign Creator-God means that everything in this world is by His design, and this understanding totally reorients the whole of our thinking.

I hear so many people talking about God’s sovereignty as if he’s a magician. You know…if you follow God’s commands, it will go well with you (we hear this over and over again in the Books of the Law, Genesis through Deuteronomy). But we explain it as if God is pulling bunnies out of hats. God, because he’s so powerful, will overcome this horrible world in an act of blessing and make it better for you, despite the reality of this (did we mention it?) horrible, fallen world that we live in.

Let’s set that on its head, shall we? Things do not go well with us when we follow God because he intervenes in reality and makes it that way. Things go well when we follow God because he CREATED and DEFINED reality. In other words, when God tells us, it will go well for you when you don’t commit murder, he’s not saying that it will go well because He’ll somehow change your reality and make it all better. He’s telling us it will go well because that’s how he set up the Universe to work in the first place. God established the very laws of nature and morality. He is the source, the designer – it all springs from him. When we live God’s way, we live the way we were created to, not against it. That’s why it goes well with us. We are living according to reality, the reality of the Lord.

Do you get this? This is why we talk about absolute Truth with a capital T. This is absolutely essential to understanding the loving character of God.

Because, if God designed reality, and God is loving and good, then reality (as it was intended) is loving and good. When we live according the reality of God’s design for us, we are living in and experiencing the sum of God’s loving goodness.

Still with me?

So, if God is the sovereign creator of reality, that means that reality is how He designed it to be. Not a mistake. Not a mishap. Not a coincidence. Not a chance happening.

But total, supernatural, real design.

[Of course, we do live in a world affected by sin – the fallen world. Don’t worry; we’ll talk about that. But the fact that the world is fallen does not change the fact that God is sovereign. He is just as sovereign now as he was in the Garden of Eden. That never changed. We still live in a world designed and controlled by God. Satan and sin and evil are NEVER NEVER EVER EVER equal to or more powerful than God in ANYTHING. Don’t ever forget this. We do not live in a dualistic reality where Good and Evil fight an equal back-and-forth battle. No. God has and is and will always win this battle. He has been, is now, and will always be on the throne. He is the only sovereign God. Get this…if you get nothing else…get this. It is the best thing that could ever be real, and it is the core of all reality.]

So, if God is sovereign in the design of the world, it means that nature working optimally is nature working as God intended. I’ll say it again: things go well for us when we follow God’s design, because he rules over how things work.

Absolutely everything is under God’s control and design – according to His will, according to His purpose.

Got it?

Number Two. We are under grace. My manifesto is not about earning God’s favor, nor about disappointing him when we fail. This is about the celebration of living joyfully according to God’s design, because we love him and trust him and understand that when we live the way he created us to live, we enter into the joy of his reality and things go well for us. This is not about salvation, or good works, or brownie points or legalism. This is about the Lord of Heaven’s Armies loving you with an everlasting love and showing you the way that you can most joyfully, efficiently glorify Him.

Because that’s what this is all about, isn’t it? The glory of God.

We glorify God when we joyfully live in his reality, because we become his workmanship and prove that he is so good, and so holy.

So, if you’re ever tempted (like I am, often) over the next few days and weeks and months and years to make health, or anything else, about favor and worth, come back here: We live under grace. We are saved through faith, not from ourselves, but as a gift from God’s love.

[Want more grace-living? Read my series about preaching the Gospel. It just might change your life].

So, let’s dive in, shall we?

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3 thoughts on “When Christians are health nuts, The Prequel

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