Most of us know that the physical health of a person is impacted by what a person eats and the kind of exercise one gets. Physical health is also influenced by relational, intellectual, emotional, spiritual and environmental factors too.
At a recent meeting of the Elders of our congregation we discussed the spiritual health of our congregation and its members, but what is spiritual health and what does it look like?
A healthy spiritual life for a Christian begins with being in a right relationship with God through faith in Jesus Christ. We receive that gift of new health through the waters of baptism where God’s Word and the Holy Spirit come to give us new birth (John 3:5).
A healthy Christian life also requires a family. Yes, the support of our birth family is important, but just as important is a congregational family that supports us as Christ supported His own family of disciples. They were together day in and day out. The togetherness of the Christian congregation is seen most clearly in the book of Acts (2:42) where Christians daily, devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. The body of Christ is integral to our health. However, it’s what went on in that family that was the key to their health.
Even though our redeemed state is pure gift from God through Christ Jesus, what needs to be maintained and deepened is our faith. Faith is a gift from God planted in our lives. It is a seed that roots us to the gift of God’s grace in Christ and can grow to produce either good fruit if the relationship with Christ is maintained or bad fruit (unbelief) if there is a breaking of relationship.
Of course the model of health is Christ Jesus, but the health of His own life was not that of Christian magazines and shows where people with perfect teeth, happy smiles and obvious wealth look on. No, His perfect life was filled with threats, abuse, bumps, bruises, lacerations, suffering and death. The model of health among His disciples was likewise not one of supermen and superwomen, but suffering servants struggling along.
Unlike many other forms of health (physical, intellectual, emotional) Christian spiritual health can be quite vibrant in spite of the breakdown of health in other areas of life. For example, a person who is weak and broken from illness can exude an incredibly healthy spiritual state. However, this health is not without its food source.
At the center of the Christian life is Christ, the Word, who comes to feed us in preaching, the Scriptures and the Sacraments. These are the means of grace by which God takes broken sinners, heals them and fills them with His life so that whether the rest of life is healthy, they can continue to persevere in faith.
Therefore, the spiritual health of a Christian and a Christian community is directly related to their value of and engagement with the Word of God.
It is for this reason that prior to Christmas and in the New Year you will be encouraged to become involved in learning to study God’s Word together. It is God’s desire that you grow into the fullness of life in Christ (John 10:10; Ephesians 4:12-16) for it is only in Him that we live and move and have our being (Acts 17:28).
– Pastor Tim