4 Ways a Healthy Lifestyle relates to Following Jesus
This past summer, Ryan and I celebrated our first anniversary as a married couple. Yay!! On our wedding day, when I committed my life to Ryan with the ever popular, "I do", I wasn't saying "I do in only in the afternoon" or "I do when you put the toilet seat down" (though that could be a tempting condition). I said "I do" for all areas of my life for as long as I live.
In the same way, when I chose to follow Christ, I didn't sign up to give my life merely when it works best for me or only when it comes to certain spiritual things. I said yes to giving my entire life - the spiritual, the emotional, and the physical. Who we are and all that comprises what we call life is multifaceted. Experiencing the abundant life that Jesus came to bring is a healthy lifestyle! And this healthy lifestyle isn't just eating (or not eating) certain foods and exercising. It's living an intentional life with others, bringing healing and hope, abiding in love, finding rest and balance, as well as eating well and staying active.
With that said, here are 4 specific ways that a healthy lifestyle relates to following Jesus:
1. It serves our calling.
At the core, we are all called to be in a transformative relationship with God. Through that relationship we are given the opportunity to illuminate His Kingdom, and to learn and journey alongside others.
Additionally, we've all been given unique gifts and talents that provide an avenue by which we can live this out. Who we are cannot be duplicated or replaced by anyone else. We exist as individual, one of a kind members of the Body of Christ.
Unfortunately, too many of us are being taken out of the game early and without notice because of failing health. Poor sleep and stress makes us tired and unfocused. Our backs hurt, our joints ache, and our blood work reveals a need for adjustment. But there is a better way.
Living a healthy lifestyle gives us the stamina and clarity of mind needed to positively affect the lives of others. Good health allows us to pursue God’s call in our lives without hindrance.
2. It reflects Jesus' ministry.
When we look at what Jesus did during his three years of ministry, we see a LOT of healing. Just to name a few...
Man with the withered hand.
Lame man at Bethsaida
Peter's mother in-law
If we're following him and his example, it would seem fitting that we would seek to live lives that are in alignment with his efforts to restore health.
Currently, in the United States, 1 in 3 kids are obese and over half of all adults, roughly 120 million people, have one or more chronic health conditions like diabetes, heart disease, cancer, arthritis, and stroke. The sad thing is, all of these are considered "preventable" diseases that are dictated, largely, by lifestyle.
When we live a healthy lifestyle and help others do the same, we reflect Jesus' ministry.
3. It echoes the greatest commandments
Jesus gives the two greatest commandments. The first and greatest - to love the Lord with all of our hearts, soul, mind, and strength. The second, which is like it - to love others as we love ourselves.
Our physical health affects our mind, emotions, and spirituality majorly! How many of us have felt hangry when we don't eat? That's only a small example of the affect what eat or don't eat has on our perceptions and the chemicals in our brain.
If we are seeking to steward our lives, we've got to steward our bodies. A major form of self love is taking care of our wellness. How loving are we being to ourselves if we are not giving ourselves space to rest, to get the nutrients we need, or to spend time with life giving people?
Loving God, ourselves, and others is inextricable from living a healthy lifestyle.
4. It fosters personal growth.
Has anyone ever wondered why fasting is emphasized in the Bible? I have... because, honestly, I rather dislike it. Who looks forward to NOT eating for any period of time?! Talk about getting hangry. Gee wiz! Those who know me well know what a struggle fasting might be for me.
And yet, the times I've done it, I've realized God's grace in the most tangible way. When I fast, I become dependent and focused on Him to mentally overcome my hunger, my cravings, and my terrible, hunger-induced attitude.
Or what about temperance and moderation? Many of us are not able to sustain a healthy lifestyle because a balance is not found or maintained through what we choose to eat. Often times, though, that same imbalance is present in other areas of our lives - lack of sleep, stress, relationship trials, negative thinking, etc. Being intentional and disciplined with our diet and exercise cultivates a skill within us that can be applied to anything.
Living a healthy lifestyle provides a tangible means of personal development that cultivates the very characteristics that help us to better follow Jesus' example.
Wherever you're at in your health journey, know that the past is all an opportunity to learn, and the future is what you make it. Just as we have grace to become patient (SO hard) and kind, we have grace to transform our health!