KEEPING IN SHAPE
Paul, Apostle to the Gentiles wrote the following regarding the maintenance of the human body. “Therefore I do not run like a man running aimlessly; I do not fight like a man beating the air. No, I beat my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize” (I Corinthians 9:26-27).
This is a strong admonition for all of us. Paul, to me, was saying that his bodily appearance backed his message. How can we talk about Christ being a healer and then neglect to care for our bodies? We are all guilty of handing out advice that we ourselves cannot abide by. We have good intentions, but are inconsistent in our applications. We want healing, but we are not discrete about what and how much we eat. Perhaps it is not inappropriate for Government to regulate our diet. Moses long ago suggested that a higher power should guard our food intake. We must be taught: “that man does not live by bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord” (Deuteronomy 8:3) and Jesus agreed with Moses (Matthew 4:4). In other words, regulations can be advantageous. Like the Ten Commandment, they help us manage our body and keep it safe.
The sobering reality is this: God is in control of the soul after death, but not over the body. Satan made that claim (Jude 9). While we are alive, we have total charge over our earthly body. There is no flesh and blood in His world (I Corinthians 15:50). We have also been equipped with managerial tools like the mind, the will and the conscience. We are endowed with the ability to distinguish between what is good and what is bad (Genesis 3:22). We know how to avoid a bellyache and a hangover. We know when our body needs food, drink or rest. The body speaks to us through weakness, sickness and other warnings. If we mistreated it, it will collapse on us and we become disabled. But when we treat the body well, it will make it through the toughest circumstances. I survived burns from my knees to my head because my body was healthy and strong. There was a man with me with a small burn that would not heal. His body was full of pollutants that were destroying his immune system.
God put man in charge over his own body and informed him that he must function within limits. In fact, there are pollutants that will poison and kill the body. Once the body is defiled it passes the poison on to its offspring (Gen.2: 15-17). All humans became subjected to Adam’s sin (I Cor.15: 22). A polluted body also pollutes the environment (Gen.3: 17-19). Not even the Man from heaven was exempt from Adam’s crime against the Creator that had made a good body endowed with His breath or spirit (Gen.2: 7). Jesus knew the limits of the flesh. He urged his disciples, “Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak” (Mt.26: 41). The spirit or the mind takes us beyond what our body is able to do. It is in our mind that we hatch the evil before we coerce our body to carry it out (Mt.5: 27-30). For instance, adultery has wrecked marriages and embittered communities. Nations fought costly wars. Plays have been written about Anthony and Cleopatra, Henry VIII and his Spanish lady. World War I began after an Austrian price was thrown out of a lady’s window in Prague. Let us not forget the swelling of welfare caused by promiscuity.
The body needs desperately the help of the mind. It is the mind that requires treatment before the body can be healed. It should be of interest to us that Jesus healed the mind before the body could respond (Mk.2: 1-5). I too experienced healing from cancer, before I received treatments and radiations, after I let the Scriptures correct my mind (Eph.1: 4).