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Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Does Jesus Want Me To Be Physically Fit?

Mission statements are meant to grab your attention, start discussion, clarify your motives, get on the same page, understand where you are headed, clarify what you are not about, etc. But, rarely if ever do they fully surmise the depth of your passions, or your personality. Often, they leave no room for variance or seasonal discrepancies. Some mission statements are purposely worded to fit on a t-shirt. That being the case, rarely do they give an adequate definition that is satisfactory.

OUR MISSION (Westwinds) is to lead everyone toward full life development in Christ.

A couple of years ago, someone lovingly and jokingly chided and teased us (me) about “full life development.” “It’s so vague! What does it mean? Does it mean Jesus wants you to work out and lose weight and stuff?” The laughter suggested that certainly this is not what the person thought we were saying by full life development. They supposed it was something much more “spiritual.”

My reaction to the prodding? Ummm, being physically fit, yeah, that’s part of it.

My answer was met with silence.

I believe being physically fit and healthy is very much a part of being spiritually fit. That conversation has come back to me many times.

Not being overweight or obese is only part of the physically fit and healthy equation. Eating right, making wise choices, strength and endurance, learning to say “no” and “when”, establishing new habits, thinking of your loved ones’ and family’s reliance upon you, planning ahead, sexual choices etc. are all parts of a physically fit and healthy lifestyle that is indeed tied to our spiritual well-being and our relationship with God and others. We often times don’t give this mindset enough credence.

The old adage, “you are what you eat” is extra-biblical proverbial wisdom that is in fact very biblical.

How does it affect us spiritually if we ignore our physical health?
• Exhaustion that deprives us of time with our families.
• Complications that affect our ability to work and provide.
• Attitudes of anger and bitterness because we do not feel good about ourselves.
• Irritability with our loved ones.
• Apathy and lack of motivation.
• All varieties of depression.
• Sleep deprivation and physical pain that keeps us from doing simple things like spending time with others or reading our Bible.

The list goes on.

“Do you not know that your body is a temple 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 body.” I Corinthians 6:19 and 20

While we may not espouse any of the diets and fads that attach themselves to Christianity like The Old Testament Diet or Weight Loss God’s Way, and we don’t get so ridiculously specific as to ask “What Would Jesus Eat,” we certainly recognize the connection between unhealthy choices/bad habits and our spiritual condition. Garbage in=garbage out has implications mentally, physically, emotionally, and indeed spiritually.

Westwinds empowers our staff each year with a sum of money designed to impact the local community in creative ways that are “missional.” In light of the mission of “full life development in Christ,” our staff is given the freedom to spend a certain amount of money in the community to bolster and augment spiritual conversation, meet needs, raise awareness, etc. (though each endeavor may not do all these things at once). We call this “Beyond 1000” (our address is 1000 Robinson).

This year, during the second quarter of 2010, we will launch a Beyond 1000 initiative/missional endeavor designed to promote health and wellness—physically and spiritually.

Beginning in April, a petition will go out to the Jackson community through various media outlets encouraging people to write a short essay on “why I need to get healthy.” From the collection of essays, a group of 12 will be selected to join a Westwinds satellite dedicated to health and wellness. These 12 will then be given a 6-month membership to a local gym in Jackson and a 6-month membership to Weight Watchers (subject to rules and accountability guidelines).

As part of the satellite, members will have access to a qualified nutrition and health expert for questions, guidance, advice, and support. They will also have access to a spiritual guide they can contact and be in relationship with if and when they wish to pursue biblical counsel in relation to this challenge.

The purpose of this mission is:
• To provide inroads to spiritual conversation
• To foster community and relationships
• To make a concerted effort to raise health awareness in connection with spirituality

During this 6-month satellite, members will be held responsible for meeting guidelines that include but are not limited to regular satellite meeting attendance once a week, having an accountability partner, regular Weight Watchers participation including a once-a-week meeting, and regular gym usage no less than 3 times a week.

This is all in the initial stages. I’d love to hear what you think.

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