In this six-part series I’ve entitled “Wellness Week,” I’m writing about some of my biggest personal struggles we face. At the same time, I want to raise awareness within the body of Christ about issues related to wellness (exercise, eating, sleep and more). We need to talk about how they affect us physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. You can read Parts 1 and 2 here and here.
The most neglected struggle in the church
Today in #WellnessWeek, I want to spend some time processing the most neglected struggle in the church (in my humble opinion). Most churches will spend time on a Sunday morning talking about issues such as relationships, spiritual disciplines, money and current events. Some churches will teach through books of the Bible verse by verse. And I’m glad our churches ARE teaching these topics and teaching through the Bible.
However, I think in most people’s experiences, they would say their church does not take the time to talk about eating, exercise, gluttony, fasting and wellness. I think this could be, in part, due to the fact that so many people in ministry (present company included) struggle with food, eating and weight issues and don’t really want to address the obvious sin struggles in our own lives. We’re open to addressing other sins, but this one comes too close to home for many pastors.
As a result, we don’t talk about wellness issues and sins in our community groups, Sunday School classes and even in our marriages. We don’t know how, and as much as I hate to say it, this topic seems off limits. For example:
- How do you lovingly challenge someone with their overeating issues?
- How do you encourage a spouse or a brother in Christ that he probably needs to exercise and/or sleep more?
- And, how do you tell a friend she doesn’t need to make another trip to the buffet line?
We’re often more afraid of hurting feelings than speaking the truth in love. It seems like this topic is out of bounds and becomes “none of your business.”
The problem in the midst of this denial/refusal to discuss this topic is that we essentially pick and choose what we want to talk about from the pulpit, in our small groups and in our marriages. We’re happy to preach on verses regarding sexual sin and pride, but we choose to ignore the obvious sins of gluttony and sloth.
Part of the reason why I’m so passionate about this topic is (1) because it’s a huge part of my struggle and story, and (2) because I want to help raise awareness of an obvious area of neglect within the body of Christ. I am so thankful for my friends Bobby and Becca who are passionate about wellness and are giving much of their lives towards helping others understand how to honor God with our bodies and what the Bible says about wellness.
- A few weeks ago, Bobby, Becca and some friends did a class at our church about wellness called “Surrendered Wellness: Stewarding Your Body for God’s Glory.” You can find all the audio for this class here.
- In addition, I had the opportunity to share my story and teach on wellness last May. You can listen to or watch my sermon through this link: Confessions From a Bathroom Stall: Lessons Learned in a Battle with Gluttony.
- I am thankful my church doesn’t shy away from this topic (although we certainly have room to grow).
One last thought today…
One of the verses I have spent a fair amount of time learning and meditating upon the last few weeks is 1 Corinthians 9:26-27. Paul says,
Therefore I do not run like someone running aimlessly; I do not fight like a boxer beating the air. No, I strike a blow to 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 believe that sometimes we might disqualify ourselves in the church. I know I preach an inconsistent message where I pick and choose what’s most important. I’ll challenge premarried couples to not live together and to keep their pants on until they say, “I do,” while at the same time overeating and living in sloth. My life is sometimes inconsistent with God’s Word, and as a result I can lose my voice to speak truth into the lives of others. If I choose to live inconsistently with God’s best, why would someone living in sin choose to listen to what I have to say? Obviously God’s Word stands firm regardless of the messenger, but the message is heard much more clearly when the messenger lives consistently with the message.
Tomorrow I’ll get super practical and share some tips as well as a little experiment I tried. But for today, your challenge in #wellnessweek is to process through the opportunities below and widen the circle and discuss with others what God is teaching you.
2. Discuss this post with someone – either your spouse, your roommate, one of your children or a friend in your community group. Ask the other person how they think you are doing at honoring God with your body.
3. Do you live a lifestyle that is completely consistent with God’s Word? Why or why not?