(This post was written for January’s Glebe Report which is focussed on health and wellness)
There is no doubt that spirituality can have a big impact on one’s health and wellness. Consider Christmas, which has just passed as I write this. Christmas to those of us who call ourselves Christian is the time of year we celebrate the birth of Jesus. Christmas, a time which brings families together, a time for good will and a focus on peace, hope, joy, and love. Of course Christmas also means extra stress, extra food, and extra spending which leads to extra stress which leads to extra food which of course requires extra spending. So even the celebration of Christmas can add to our health and well being or diminish it.
You can make a strong case that Christianity is good for one’s health. The Christian worldview is one which is filled with hope. Of course there is the hope for eternity with a God who loves us. But we also have great hope for a world gone wrong, a hope that we can do better right here, right now. Our Lord taught us to pray, “Thy Kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” When people turn from foolishness to wise living, this is good for the health of the entire community. Hope is healthy. So is repentance!
We can see also that Christianity is good for our health when we look at the Christian ethic. For example, there are high standards in truth and integrity. This is healthy. There are high standards in self-control. There is a solid ethic of work, charity, and volunteerism. These are healthy. There is a high view of marriage and a strong ethic with regards to sexuality. Nothing will protect us from STDs and broken relationships better than keeping body parts for one’s spouse. This is true even if we don’t happen to have a spouse. Oh, I can hear the labels now crying “pastor, you are too old fashioned.” Perhaps I am ‘old fashioned’ but I do think God’s onto something. Oh I can also hear the dissent “pastor, I don’t see Christians living with this healthy ethic.” Maybe so, but again repentance is healthy.
Of course there are times and places where being a Christian is bad for your health. It can get you imprisoned. It can get you beaten. It can get you killed. Being Christ was not healthy for Jesus. “Pick up your cross and follow me,” does not sound like “practice some form of spirituality and receive benefits to your own personal sense of health and wellness.” Much spirituality today seems to be the latter. Jesus calls us to the former. Though at times that may not be great for our own personal health, the focus on self-sacrifice for the sake of others, even those undeserving, can and will lead us to a healthier society.
Is being a Christian good for your health? Often yes, but let’s not forget that more importantly, following Jesus well is good for the health and well being of those around you!