Godly living = Godly eating?
I read in the Sydney Morning Herald today a study which was done on the eating habits of children and how that has been shown to have a link towards mental health as adolescents. Basically the study concluded that bad eating has direct consequences on anxiety, depression, aggression and other aspects of a person’s mental well-being. In other words, what we do to our bodies affects our minds.
This led me to a memory of a seminar that Dudley and Elizabeth Foord used to run at Katoomba Youth Leadership Convention (now Next Generation) titled ‘The Spiritual Life of a Leader’ (or something like that). I remember thinking that I agreed with everything they said except when they mentioned the importance of fitness, good eating and exercise in the spiritual walk of a good Christian leader. Like most unhealthy teenagers who didn’t like exercising that much and enjoyed a good buffet between main meals, I thought, ‘Nah, that can’t be right! What does the physical have to do with the spiritual?!’
Why I thought of their seminar while reading the SMH article was that the article reminded me of a much neglected fact: human beings are created to be embodied beings. In biblical thought there is no dualism between body and mind, body and soul, or even body and spirit. Jesus’ bodily resurrection and the coming renewal of the created order shows us that physical matter matters. Just as the physical impinges on the mental (as per the mental health study), so also the physical impinges on the spiritual. The converse is also true too: the mental overflows onto the physical, the spiritual to the mental, the spiritual to the physical, the mental to the spiritual. We are a complex network of inside and outside, spiritual and material, and not to be finally separated (whether in this life or in eternity)!
So what does this mean? It means that I gotta keep exercising and watching my (slipping) diet. It means for a lot of uni students they have to watch the amount of rest and sleep they’re getting. (It means that Moore College students need to watch their weight!) Our mental and spiritual well-beings are linked to how well we look after our bodies. In our fight for joy and spiritual growth (and it is a fight!) let’s not neglect the physical.