Why be healthy? It seems like an obvious answer – to live longer, happier lives. But those who are planning to live forever in heaven sometimes wonder – why be concerned now? What’s the point of stressing about health here on earth, before the “forever” starts? Won’t our bodies be changed “in a twinkling” into immortal bodies at the Second Coming of Jesus (1 Corinthians 15:51-52)?
Is there a Biblical basis for advocating a healthy life style for Christians in the “here and now”?
Christian schools have been advocating good health for a long time. Harvard University, founded in 1636 on the library and estate of a young, Puritan minister; Oberlin College, begun in 1833 by a Presbyterian minister; Earlham College, begun in 1847 by Quakers — all were institutions of higher learning which (at their founding) emphasized healthful lifestyle principles in addition to academic excellence.
Why did they feel that it was important for a healthy physical body to accompany sharp minds and pious spirits?
From the beginning, Man was created as a whole being: body, mind, and spirit. Modern science confirms this “whole being” concept, recognizing that any illness in one part of the body has an impact on all other parts. Heart disease affects the brain. Depression affects spiritual thought. Spiritual restlessness affects blood pressure and mental function. In a positive spin, the Bible says that “a merry heart doeth good like a medicine” (Proverbs 17:22). Even the growth of the child Jesus is described in terms of a whole person: “And he increased in wisdom and in stature and in favor with God and man” (Luke 2:52).
Expressed in medical terms, the human body exists to house and nurture the brain, through which humans communicate with God and other people. Any defects in the physical body will adversely affect the brain and its functions.
This kind of health information applies to anyone – if you keep your body healthy, it will keep your mind and your relationships healthy.
Christians, however, don’t just live for themselves. From baptism onward, they live in a special relationship to “the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit” (Matthew 28:19). Taking the “whole person” concept into this relationship, the instruction of 1 Corinthians 6:19 takes on enhanced meaning: “Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit . . . and you are not your own.”
Christians aren’t free to do whatever they choose with their bodies; it belongs to God, not themselves. Paul speaks even more directly to the health of the body in 1 Corinthians 10:31: “Whether, then you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.”
For Christians, the power inside that enables them to follow God is affected, good or bad, by such simple things as drinking enough water, eating a balanced diet, and getting adequate exercise. To Christians, the decision to learn and implement healthful lifestyle choices is as important as the decision to read the Bible, pray, or “love his neighbor as himself.”
Being a complete and effective Christian means giving attention to the health of the “whole person” – body, mind, and spirit.