Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Is Taking Care of Your Health a Christian Responsibility? (Part II)

Let me relay a real life story. When I lived near Atlanta I attended a medium size church of 400 to 500 in attendance. This church had a pretty vibrant service program. I was riding to one of our community service ventures with a well respective gentleman from the church. This fellow was in his early 40s. He had the build of a one time football player. He was strong, he had huge hands and a handshake that felt like a vice. He was also a very kind and soft-spoken person who helped out with the churches service program quite a bit.
Unfortunately, this once well conditioned man was fairly oblivious to good dietary and fitness habits and his health was beginning to show it. He just about always seemed tired. Knowing him fairly well as I did, I don't think he had been involved in much, if any, exercise in quite a while. On our way to this charitable function we came upon one of the popular fast food restaurants. His eyes lit up as he told me that he just didn't have time to eat breakfast at home thiat morning, so if it was all right with me we would just stop in here and get a quick bite. Besides, the least of things he wanted to do was to be late. He didn't have time to eat a healthy breakfast at home. After all, he was too busy attending to what he felt was his "Christian responsibility".
Let's pause here and cogitate for a minute. What is our Christian responsibility? Would it have been better for my friend to take an extra 15 minutes and ate a decent breakfast? Maybe he would have been 10 minutes late, but maybe he would have had the strength to work 20 additional minutes. Or maybe if he would have been practicing good health and fitness habits he may have felt better, got up earlier and arrived 10 minutes ahead of time.
Our health is so important, not only to us but to everyone around us. When we feel good we demonstrate a far more pleasant attitude and we are able to help people more and better. The beauty of it is that for a large part, the choice is ours. Our health, to a great extent, is a function of the health and fitness habits that we practice on a daily basis. Often times we hear Christians saying that they don't have time to exercise; they are too busy serving others. Or, they are so occupied with charitable projects that they seem to believe they need to eat unhealthy food more than they should. Or that their serving is somehow going to make up for their poor health and fitness habits. I think that such people are sadly mistaken. Or do I dare suggest that maybe, just maybe, some people are taking the easy way out? After all, it is nice to be thought of as the mercenary who is so caring that he helps others at the expense of himself or herself.
The good news is that if you find yourself following a path that leads away from good health you can change your course. Good health and fitness habits are not a matter of some mysterious arcanum that only a reserved few have insight into. In fact, most of these habits were taught to us when we were children. Let's keep the big picture in mind. Which path is going to help people the most and inconvenience others the least over the long haul?
Jesus did teach us to "love our neighbor as ourselves." Notice the word "as". Was Jesus telling us to only moderately love our neighbor? I think not. The obvious implication is to love our neighbor greatly, as we do ourselves. If we love ourselves we really should do our best to take care of our ourselves. To be in the best health we can so we can enjoy life and help others. I firmly believe doing our best to maintain good health is our Christian responsibility and it is one that we should not take lightly.

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