1 Corinthians 6:9 Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit? Most people I talk to about their health & fitness wouldn’t place their physical well being in the sacred category. However, from Gods perspective, there is no divide between the sacred and secular. Everything is spiritual. Our bodies are the vehicle Gods given to us to live our lives and carry out our life purpose. Whilst Godliness is of every value, bodily training is of some value and it generally only becomes an issue when ill health surfaces in our lives. Many of us punish our bodies with a lack of sleep, poor nutrition and sedentary lifestyles that ultimately catch up with us as we age. When your unwell and unable to operate in your daily life as you once did, it doesn’t matter how grand your vision, or how passionate you are about reaching your friends with the gospel, the truth is you are dramatically limited in your capacity to carry out your ministry and spiritual goals. I’m advocating that we all increase the value we place upon our physical well being, not for cosmetic reasons but for stewardship and sustainability reasons that brings glory to God and energy for life and ministry. Sleep 7-8hrs, eat clean and move your body 30-60mins daily and the benefits will be dramatic, both physically and spiritually.
I love fashion but fashion doesn’t save someone from hell. It seems like some preachers are more concerned for how they looked than how their sermon was cooked. Leonard Ravenhill once said,
No man is greater than his prayer life. The pastor who is not praying is playing; the people who are not praying are straying. We have many organisers, but few agonizers; many players and payers, few prayers; many singers, few clingers; lots of pastors; few wrestlers; many fears, few tears; much fashion, little passion; many interferers, few intercessors; many writers, but few fighters. Failing here, we fail everywhere.
Growing up I based my identity on what I achieved not on whom I was in relationship with. Whether it be in the sporting arena, the police academy or in the early years of my ministry, I valued myself on how I performed rather than who Christ said I was.
We live in a culture that’s obsessed with accomplishment and image because western society works on a functional paradigm rather than a relational paradigm. A functional paradigm is task oriented and purpose driven. We function together and what little time we have left over we connect and often very surface level.
Living in this functional paradigm can lead to tension and frustration. When we make life about something other than what God intended it to be, chaos is the end result. God intended us to live from a relational paradigm first, a functional paradigm second.
The kingdom of God operates on a relational paradigm. When Jesus was tested as to what the greatest commandment in the law was, he pointed to a relational paradigm, not a functional one (Matt 22:34-40). He said, ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, strength and mind and… love your neighbour as you love yourself.’ God’s will is first relational, second functional. We get saved through a person, not a task. Jesus said, ‘I am the way’, not ‘This is the way’. Everything God teaches us about life begins and ends with relationship.
Our identity flows out of our intimacy. Jesus is so attractive because he’s so secure in his relationship with his Father. Before Jesus ever healed the sick, preached a sermon, raised the dead or cast out a demon, he had his Fathers approval over his life (Matthew 3). Father God said, ‘This is my son, in whom I’m well pleased.’
We don’t attract God’s presence through performance, we are already attractive to him and he calls us into deeper levels of relationship with him. Intimacy is not an event, it’s a lifestyle. Out of intimacy God shapes our identity and it’s through our identity, that God shapes our destiny. What we ultimately possess in life is determined by who we become.
The more rooted our identity in Christ is, the healthier our relationships will be. The vertical relationship with God precedes the horizontal relationship with others. If there is conflict in our relationships with others, its possibly because there’s conflict within our own identity.
Your identity is inextricably connected to your identity. What do you value yourself by, achievement or relationship?
Extreme Makeover was the highest rated TV show in the USA just a few years ago and highlights our culture’s obsession with image. There’s no problem with people looking after themselves through exercise and nutrition or having great fashion sense but unfortunately too many of us are trying to change external symptoms rather than deal with root issues. We are so enamored with the external that we are missing where true change comes from.
God is into extreme makeover, it’s just that he works from the inside out, not the outside in. With God, what is without is what is within. When you get saved your spirit is born again and your sinful nature is erased. Your old self is crucified (Rom 6:6), your sinful nature no longer lives but Christ lives in your spirit (Gal 2:20) and you are now a new creation (2 Cor 5:17).
Once saved, you have a divine nature, however, your mind has memory patterns of the sinful nature and must be renewed. Thus the mind becomes the central battlefield of your life because the mind is still conformed to the patterns of the sinful nature and must be transformed to be aligned with your spirit nature in Christ.
Romans 12:2 says, ‘Don’t be conformed to the pattern of this world but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God.’
‘Stinkin-thinkin’ doesn’t just disappear when you become a believer, it must be actively confronted. If we don’t continually renew our thinking, our minds default to the old program. The pattern of this world is alienated from the patterns of God’s kingdom. To repent is to change your mind and think differently.
In Isaiah 55:8-9 God says, ‘My thoughts aren’t your thoughts and my ways aren’t your ways.’ If our ways are going to become his ways, our thoughts must be renewed by his truth. It’s all in the mind!