I previously wrote an article titled Breastfed Christians. In it I talked about the huge number of Christians that never graduate from spiritual milk (the basic truths of our salvation) to spiritual meat (the deep truths of God). In this article, I want to swing the pendulum far the other way and touch on the other end of the spiritual milk/meat issue; spiritual obesity.
While there are pastors that spend their whole career serving milk to their congregants, there are those who have led their congregation to regularly consume the meat of the Gospel. And while they may be producing well-equipped and capable ministers of reconciliation, there are still those who show up on Sunday and consume more than their fill of spiritual meat. These well-fed Christians know the teaching, commit to devotional time, attend small groups and even volunteer for church-sponsored “outreach projects.” The whole of their Christian life is based on consumption. But, the amount they consume is not really the issue.
The larger issue is the lack of balance between their consumption, physical activity and rest. So, because they show up and eat and eat and eat, never working out what they consume, they become obese. Eventually their spiritual obesity causes them to sit stagnant, never activating their faith. This causes it to be near impossible to delineate them from the world they live in. The hope is not that a Christian would simply graduate from spiritual milk to spiritual meat, but their maturity would compel them to display works that reveal their faith.
A.W. Tozer said, “The health of the church is in direct proportion to the health of each individual Christian. If the church is to grow and be healthy, the individual Christians comprising the church must grow spiritually.” If we are going to be healthy Christians there are three things we need to focus on.
But Solid food is for the mature… (Heb 5:14)
Hebrews tells us that every Christians should eventually mature to be teachers of God’s truth. The example, and one that I previously mentioned, is that of an infant maturing from consuming milk to solid food. Just as nutrition is important for physical health, it is also important for our spiritual health. Here are three ways that we can seek a deeper understanding of God’s truth:
- Consume God’s Word Daily. Hearing it only on Sunday is not enough.
- Commit to a Community. Connect to a group of believers that will challenge you
- Commune with God Daily. Author E.M. Bounds said, “In God’s name I beseech you let prayer nourish your soul as your meals nourish your body.” In other words, pray.
So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead. (Jm 2:17)
Our faith and what we learn about God has to include action. The Message version of James 2 asks the question, “Isn’t it obvious that God-talk without God-acts is outrageous nonsense?”
These God-acts include the work of the ministry for building up the body of believers in love (Eph 4) and the ministry of reconciliation for bringing unbelievers into Christ (2 Cor 5). And while James gives the example of feeding and clothing a friend, this isn’t an area where someone can provide a list of things that will reveal you as a healthy and committed follower of Jesus. Instead, this area is about intention and what compels you. In John 15:5 Jesus explains this idea when He says, “Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.” As we remain connected to Jesus, He creates a change in us that produces much good fruit.
…and I will give you rest. (Mt 11:28)
No healthy lifestyle is complete without including the habit of rest. It provides the body with the opportunity to recuperate. Rest is just as important if we’re to be a healthy Christian. In Mark 2:27, Jesus said, “The Sabbath was made for man…” Theologian Matthew Henry explains this by saying, “The Sabbath was made a day of rest, only in order to its being a day of holy work, a day of communion with God, a day of praise and thanksgiving; and the rest from worldly business is therefore necessary…” Our rest is intended to provide us with relief from the world and draw us into God. We should seek rest which is focused on communion with God.
The key to staying healthy is keeping the routine going and eventually it letting it become habit. But, to make sure you succeed, you have to do it with a community of people who value it as much as you do. You will know you found that community because they will show their love for you in the way they challenge you to walk as Christ walked.
Jesus wants us to be healthy Christians, because our community and the world need us to be.