Oh boy, this video is going to cost me some followers….
How about obesity? Or in other words, how about living an unhealthy lifestyle? Do we, as Christians, have anything to say about that? And if so, are there consequences for those who are mistreating their bodies?
Well, before I dive into this one, I would like to tell you about my car… Boy! I love my car. You see, we work and live on Madagascar, somewhere in the middle of nowhere. Honest! We live in a small village, in a wooden house with no running water, and only electricity from a solar panel. We pay a man to get our water from a pump on the other side of the village and sometimes, when the pump isn’t working, he gets it from the rice fields… In that case our water comes with many extras like dead frogs and insects.
Anyway, to get to our village we need a strong car. The last stretch is about 18 km unpaved road. Well, I wouldn’t even want to give it the honour to call it a road. It is more like a path with some smooth spots here and there. So, there we live. Me, my wife and our five children. The nearest decent hospital is about 2hours drive and vegetables need to be bought outside the area as well. No shops, no good markets etc. Maybe, you start to understand why I am so happy with my car.
What do you think is my first priority when I come to the capitol city Antananarivo? Right, the garage! There my car can be checked and if needed, fixed. Just last week I bought brand new mud-tires. Mudstars. Not the most expensive ones, but they do their job well. Every time I’m planning a trip I check all the fluids, tire pressure and what not. Every time we come back I do the same. That way the car is ready when I need it. I clean it, I check the electrical system, whether the wires are still intact and I cover the dashboard with cardboard so that the heat will not melt anything inside.
So, you tell me. Am I doing the right thing by maintaining my car? Isn’t that the responsible thing to do in our situation? I know, some would say that I should never had gone to that village in the first place. But that is besides the point. I am there, together with my family, and the car is our main transport in and out of the area. So keeping it top fit is the way to go.
So let’s get back to the topic. Are Christians not allowed to enjoy life? Well, that statement is nonsense of course. When we look at the One we are following, we see that He was enjoying life quit often. Jesus went to weddings, He got invited for diner and so on. If you look at the Jewish history you’ll find out that Jews are very keen on good parties. God actually gave them all sorts of festivals to celebrate. It is like He is telling them to have a good time remembering Him and by celebrating the great deeds of God they honoured Him.
But now things seem to have changed for many believers, especially in the richer countries. Again, I am going to give a little example.
You might have heard about the Corona crisis? Well, we were in the middle of it during our furlough in Holland. Almost everybody was panicking. I was totally blown away by this response of our government but also from people within the church.
Somewhere in the beginning of March 2020, a man came up to me and said with big eyes: “You must be terrified for all your friends on Madagascar!”. Not understanding his question I asked why I should be. He said that they would all die because of Corona. His idea was that because they are all poor they are all weak, and they would definitely die. I told him that this was not going to happen. I explained to him that most Malagasy don’t have heart problems, diabetics or obesity. I told him that if a poor Malagasy would have a condition like this they would probably die soon because of a lack of all the wonderful medicine and other healthcare we have in the west. This was not the answer the gentleman expected. He concluded by telling me that I was wrong, the Malagasy were going to die, and I was just not knowledgeable enough.
Now, 10 months later. Madagascar’s official count is about 270 deaths, and most of them already had health issues… 270… Madagascar has a population of 22 million… Just saying.
What happened in Holland? In the first season we counted about 6.500 deaths. Most deaths were 70+ and among younger people mostly those with obesity, asthma, heart conditions and other known welfare deceases. Still, 6.500 is not even that high. In the flu season of 2017/2018 Holland counted 9.500 deaths, also mostly among the elderly and the unhealthy.
It is a painful conclusion that people who live an unhealthy lifestyle are the ones who will suffer more during outbreaks of the flu or a virus like Covid-19. In truth, people who are obese or those who drink too much alcohol and all the others who neglect their body, aren’t healthy at all. It is more accurate to say that they are sick al ready.
How to treat your body?
Until now, I didn’t even mention the Bible, did I? Your body is your vehicle on this earth and like my car you better maintain it or else.
Do you think it is strange that our Creator is concerned with our lifestyle? When the Bible teaches us to live in a sober way, it doesn’t say it is forbidden to enjoy!
The Bible does teach us however that we need to honour God in everything we do.
1 Corinthians 6:19-20 ESV
“Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.”
Your body is more than a car, your body is way more than just the vehicle you use here on earth. When you become a Christian the Holy Spirit wants to live within you, making your body a temple. How do you take care of a holy temple? Are you just going to fill it up with trash? Are you going to ruin the walls with mayonnaise and ketchup? Of course not! You’ll try to keep the temple clean and beautiful. You are going to maintain the temple. The other way around goes the same. The temple is beautiful and you are not going to strip away all the beauty. You are not going to throw away the nice paintings or golden chandeliers. Stripping the temple naked is just as wrong as filling it up with trash.
1 Corinthians 10:31 ESV
“So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.”
Yes I actually believe that Christians should do their best to live healthy. No, that doesn’t mean you can’t eat a hamburger so now and then. But I’ve seen that many Christians seem to think that ‘so now and then’ means something like daily. They like to eat it now and then in about two hours again.
We might consider someone who is fleshy as being healthy but in reality that is just not true. Skin over bone is the other extreme, so that would not be necessary. And although we are pretty lucky with the good medicine and healthcare in the west, that doesn’t mean that someone with obesity lives a longer healthy life. Yes sure, we all know people in their 80s who are way too heavy, but just ask them how much it takes to go for a walk. Or ask them about the medicine they need to use. On the other hand I also know about 80 years old who are not using any medicine. And whattah you know! They are mostly not to heavy or to light. They always worked and because of that had enough exercise. The ones I know are still working. Maybe not as hard as when they were younger, but they keep busy and make sure they get their exercise.
Proverbs 23:20-21 ESV
“Be not among drunkards or among gluttonous eaters of meat, for the drunkard and the glutton will come to poverty, and slumber will clothe them with rags.”
This proverb might not be relevant for us today? Think again. Poverty is not only the lack of money. During the whole Corona outbreak, countries went into lock-downs. Why? Because we were to protect our fellow countryman and woman. Don’t take me wrong! I don’t have a dead wish for other people, far from that. However, who are the people in that danger group? Yep, old people and people with all sorts of welfare related health issues. Now, the fear of the Corona virus has been and still is unwarranted. It is a good thing to know it is no more lethal than a severe flu. Of all the 70+ only 0,23% of the infected people die and for those below 70 it is only 0,04%. Still, wouldn’t you just love to walk around without having to fear a virus like this? I guess it most be pretty scary to know you are suffering from health issues and then hearing about a virus that seems to target people like you. In that sense you might acknowledge that you live in poverty because of your unhealthy lifestyle.
It is possible to become so absorbed with our physical well-being that we let it take over our lives. When that happens, life can lose its joy, and we end up ignoring things that are just as important or maybe even more important.
1 Timothy 4:8 (AMP)
“For physical training is of some value, but godliness (spiritual training) is of value in everything and in every way, since it holds promise for the present life and for the life to come.”
Again, it is good and Christ-like to live a healthy life. Eat good food and don’t eat too much! Or at the other spectrum, don’t exhaust you body to the limit through an extreme diet. Live a balanced life. But as always, put Jesus Christ at the centre of your life. Then strengthen your life spiritually every day. Concentrate on a spiritual healthy diet. You’ll find that ‘diet’ easily. God has already provided it for us. It is His word, the Bible together with prayer, and fellowship with other believers.