I’m looking at a copy of Healthy Living Made Simple, a little magazine we received from Sam’s Club. As I flip through the pages, I wonder why Sam’s Club (of all businesses) would be sending out a health magazine. Of course they’re selling an assortment of products—it’s really advertising—but is Sam’s Club my trusted source for important health information?
Then I reached this article on “Extra Energy,” by executive editor Jodi Marsh. It featured Mario Lopez and how he stays fit and healthy. Being media-challenged, I had to read the article to find out who Mario Lopez is, and I’m still not sure how being a celebrity qualifies him to give health advice. But what really bothered me about the whole article was this pull quote:
Your #1 priority in life? Really?
I thought God was my #1 priority. Putting my health in that place makes it an idol. Hmmm, not good.
This photo shows the pull quote in context:
Without our health, we have nothing, and nothing else matters? If we come down with an incurable disease, or suffer a disability, life is worthless? Cannot sick people have friends and families? How about a meaningful career or enjoyable hobby?
When Pete and I were first married, we were privileged to know a young man with significant health issues. Among his problems, he suffered from kidney failure. Several transplants had failed, so he spent three days a week, every week, at a dialysis center. Many people would moan and groan about such a challenge, but he spent this mandatory downtime in prayer.
Every time we ran into him, he’d ask how we were doing. He remembered what we’d told him last time, and asked how God had answered our prayers. And then he asked what he could pray for next. I have rarely met such a positive, cheerful, contented, and caring individual. I was sad when I heard he’d died, but it was truly our loss, not his. He’s now with the God he knew so well, while we’ve lost a treasured brother and prayer warrior. He didn’t have his health, but he was far from destitute. Much else mattered far more.
I’ve seen a trend in our culture toward this idolizing of health. People spend inordinate sums on special foods, health club memberships, nutritional supplements and alternative health care providers. I know a lot of people who spend more time and resources on their physical well-being than on their spiritual health. (In many cases, spiritual health isn’t even on their radar.) We even talk about “quality of life” when making medical decisions—implying that the value of a life depends on how healthy one is.
That isn’t to say it’s wrong to seek good health. I, too, try to eat healthy foods. I exercise. I do my best to take care of the body that God has given me. I want to be ready for whatever God asks of me, and staying in (reasonably good) shape is one aspect of that.
More importantly, this isn’t my body any more—I’m simply its steward. We’re told in 1 Corinthians 6:19-20:
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; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies.
On the other hand, God may have other plans for this body of mine. When He allows Christians to be persecuted and imprisoned, their health invariably suffers. Yet, an Iranian Christian pointed out that going to jail offered excellent opportunities to evangelize! Are we willing to give up our health for God and His kingdom?
Finally, I know that this body is temporary. I can spend all my time and money trying to stay fit and healthy, but in the end none of that will keep me from dying.
I don’t want to spend my life focused on things that are slated for destruction. Rather, I want to produce fruit that will last through eternity. Sorry Sam’s Club. You got this one wrong!