The U.S. President who perhaps was most concerned with strength and wellness was Theodore Roosevelt. Growing up, Teddy Roosevelt was a sickly, weak child. But through hard work and discipline, he learned to be tough and one time said he felt “as strong as a bull moose.”
Meanwhile, his successor as President, William Howard Taft, was an enormous man who was introduced to the American people as “three hundred pounds of solid Republican.”
When it comes to health and wellness in America these days, we live in a land of even greater extremes. There are those who are completely consumed by exercise trends, eating organic and everything else related to fitness. There are others who make almost nothing of wellness and are quite content eating junk food and sitting on a couch all day.
Roosevelt’s goal of a “strenuous life” was focused on the mission of being manly and a good citizen, not merely focused on looking good for a mirror as is the case today for many. As Christians, we understand that our bodies do matter to God and that laziness can be sinful. We therefore take care of ourselves, not for the mirror, but for the mission.
There’s often a missing happy medium between being work-out obsessed and work-out less, one that is more attainable than we might think. For many people, the difference between super-sedentary life and somewhat-in-shape life can be as simple as skipping that extra junk food snack, doing away with sugary drinks or simply taking the stairs instead of the elevator. While we recognize that many among us have physical limitations that would make the fitness goals look different, most people can find a few small things that would mean a big difference.
That being said, we also understand that “while bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come” (1 Tim. 4:8). Some of the principles that apply to a balanced and healthy life also can help us in our walk with Christ.
For the Christian, the difference between a sedentary Christian life and one with vitality can be as simple as a daily Scripture reading, more time for prayer and deciding to share the Gospel with at least one person per week.
Without a doubt, spiritual health is exceedingly more important than physical health. It can be argued, however, that there is some link between the two. The same state of mind that leads toward physical laziness also can lead toward spiritual laziness.
If we are to be disciples of Jesus Christ, we must learn to take a more disciplined approach to all of life. For people like me, who are more spontaneous, this can be difficult. At the same time, the daily disciplines are well worth it.
I would encourage each of us to take stock of our habits, especially our spiritual habits, to see if there’s any areas that might need to be fine-tuned or improved. Ultimately, it is the Holy Spirit that brings forth real fruit in our lives. After all, our faith must spring forth from the Lord God living in us, or it is merely human effort. God help us…