In our culture there are two extremes. One side of culture tempts us with any good food imaginable and teaches us to indulge. Our society has never been unhealthier and obesity is a major issue. Yet the other extreme of culture says that it’s all about image and looks. There are so many fad diets and quick fixes to offer good health.
Then within Christian culture there is wide opinion. Does it really matter if I am healthy? Does God only care about my soul? What does it matter since I get a new body in heaven?
Growing up in my Penner family, nutrition and health were something that was often discussed. My dad, being a dentist, has attended many lectures over the years on health and this has lent toward many discussions. I can remember my mom cooking oat bran muffins and at times having to eat cookies and pizza with ground whole wheat flour! Also playing tennis and attempting to be an athlete, I somewhat cared what I ate.
But once marriage and ministry hit, these values left me. I didn’t care about my weight or my eating habits. I was living in a culture that didn’t care about health at all so it was easy to fit in.
We were extremely busy with planting a church and raising a new family, so caring about what we ate or our weight, or exercising were things far from the reality of our daily lives. Deep down I had this longing to be healthy and to get back in shape, but at that point in my life it wasn’t possible. I struggled with my weight getting to a max of 210 which was 35 pounds more than when I was first married. I couldn’t run. I felt lousy, and I was down about being so out of shape.
As we shared our story in an earlier blog, God has brought much healing to our lives. It’s also brought a conviction that I need to be healthier. All of 2010 was a process of me learning about health and learning a new lifestyle. I am still learning, but I feel that we have made some traction towards better health.
In the past year, I have lost 25 pounds - most of that since September. But it did start earlier since I had slowly started to and now focus on eating better and exercising.
Now back to the questions of “Why?” I do believe that God cares about our bodies and that he wants us to take care of them. We do this to honor and glorify God. God only gave us one body to live in. This is now our moment to live our lives fully for the kingdom of God, and if we are not taking care of our bodies then we are going to be of less use for His kingdom.
A good friend and spiritual mentor of mine, Dave Williams, said at our missionary retreat. “You take your body with you everywhere you go.” That is the “vehicle” that God has given all of us and it is our responsibility to take care of it.
I have often struggled with being tired and not having enough energy which then can directly affect my spirituality. For me to have energy, I need to sleep at least 8 hours at night. Often I will sleep even 8 ½. That may not be possible for everyone but that is what I need to do.
I will talk in another time about my exercise and eating habits. But the green smoothie has been my key.
I do firmly believe that our health needs to be in balance. Ultimately it is our soul that we should be most concerned about. The great news is that we do get new bodies in Heaven. So if ours have failed, we still have a great hope.
But if we can, I do think we should take care of the body we have now. Most importantly, so we can be as effective as possible for the kingdom of God.
I would love to hear your comments! Even if you think I am off-base on this, I would love to hear from you!
My one scripture that I often think about is 1 Corinthians 6:19 (NIV, ©2010).
“19 Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own;”
If my body is a temple of the Spirit, then I think I should provide the Spirit with a good home.