A healthy lifestyle involves regular vigorous exercise (aerobic exercise) – such as long brisk walk, a competitive game of tennis, or a 30-minute jog – and, eating a healthy diet. In Part 1, I drew the parallel to how we maintain our physical health with how we can contribute to our spiritual health. In particular I pointed out that just as doing aerobic exercise delivered more oxygen into our blood stream, so too does developing our times of prayer add spiritual oxygen into our soul. In this instalment, I am going to draw parallels with maintaining a healthy diet of eating fresh fruit and vegetables, cutting down on sugared and processed foods, and how our spiritual diet. Too many Christians have poor diets. I hope to encourage you not to be one of them.
We live in a fast paced world. We expect things to happen quickly. None of us like to be kept waiting. Even when we order something online we expect it delivered straight away. Some of us having to work two or even three jobs just to be able to pay the bills. We describe ourselves as time-poor. Yet, we all get twenty-four-hours in a day. Sixty-minutes in an hour. And sixty-seconds in a minute. Most of us need to adjust how we see, understand, and treat our time. This will involve, what will be for some, adopting a foreign and largely unaccustomed view of time that involves worship, sabbath, and deepening relationships. From this biblical perspective we will come to see time as a gift from God, not a curse, or source of frustration. Within this gift of time God teaches us how to worship in those times when it is difficult to do so. Rather than thinking this divine gift of time is ours to do with what ever we want, God uses this gift to teach us that we should gift it back to Him beginning with (but not limited to) treating Sunday as a sabbath to come together to recommit our hearts, voices, minds, and presence with God’s people, back to God. God gives us passing time to learn to deepen relationships – especially with our kin, and our friends. Time is meant for relationship building.
One of the greatest lies that the would-be enemy of all our souls attempts to perpetuate is that we are what we are and we can never change. This lie is whispered into the ears of many people’s invisible ears so imperceptibly that they actually think it originated with them. “You were born this way – and you can never change”, “This is who you really are – and you can never change”, “There’s no hope of anything ever changing for better – so you might as well just kill yourself” and so on. But these sly alien voices inside the heads of the vulnerable are lies. People can change. People do change. Some circumstances were always going to be temporary and were always going to change. I know this is true because I am living proof. I am who I am but I am not who I used to be and I am not yet who I will be.
One of the dire warnings that Jesus gave to those who would be His followers was that the time would come when people would live like those during the “days of Noah” when people were oblivious to God (Luke 17:26-27) and went about their daily routines — eating, drinking, marrying, raising a family — without regard for God or His commands. Even though it was couched in surprisingly mundane descriptions perhaps leaving the original hearers to wonder why Christ would be so concerned about this, as we read on in this passage we discover that Christ is warning that it is when such ‘ordinary’ activities are done without regard to God and His commands, we are in eternal peril. Even such routine things as eating and drinking, the apostle Paul later stated, should be done “to the glory of God” (1Cor. 10:31). When such cares of this life consume all of our attention and hinder us from gazing upon the face of Christ (2Cor. 3:18; 4:6) and end up distorting our priorities (Matt. 6:33) we are in divine peril. This peril is even greater for those who are nominally religious because chances are they are completely unaware of the risk they are taking and Christ’s dire warnings to avoid it. The answer is not to be more religious but to be truly religious by embracing what Christ taught about a relationally vital religion…
The world into which the Saviour of mankind entered as a baby was a very harsh place. Life was cheap. Might was right. The oppressed were abused and often mistreated by the Roman conquerors. Those expected to speak up for, and defend, the voiceless vulnerable — their religious leaders of the day — had become too easily corrupted in their pathetic attempts to win a crumb of their conqueror’s power. This corruption in the pursuit of financial gain and political leverage had blinded these supposed-to-be-shepherds to the true plight of those they should have served as guardians. Why on earth would God send His Son into our world at such a dark time?