In case you missed it, you can check out Part 1 of this series on Wholistic Health here: http://www.csrm.org/blog/well-or-whole
If you’re a part of all of the wonderful things CSRM is doing around the world, then there is no doubt you have a passion for using sports and recreation to facilitate ministry and help people get healthy. For most of us, it’s the sports, recreation, and fitness that comes easily in our lives and our teachings. It’s easy for everyone to understand, not offensive, simpler to implement, and doesn’t require a large shift in our thinking or way of life.
However, when it comes to physical health, there is more to it than physical activity. If we are concerned about the “wholistic” health (body, mind, and spirit) of our ministry teams and those we serve, then we must broaden our approach.
Food is much more personal than sports, and therefore it can be a much more difficult task when it comes to educating our people about the best choices for their bodies. The plain fact is that people are rarely willing to give up the foods that are doing the most harm in their bodies. They joke and say, “Well, we’re all going to die someday, and I’m going to die eating the way I want!” but the sad truth is they’ve most likely not been educated as to the harm that’s actually doing.
The biggest issue with the above argument is that it comes from a place of selfishness. While it is a spiritual issue that needs to be resolved, it is affecting the choices that are being made relating to physical health. When we say that we’re going to eat what we want despite the consequences to our bodies, we are blatantly defying Scripture which tells us to glorify God with our body (1 Corinthians 6:20). I believe that throughout Scripture, it is made clear that our bodies allow us to serve God on earth and fulfill the great commission. Without bodies that are well, how can we be the body of Christ to a broken and hurting world?
With that in mind, let’s take a look at the topic of food with two specific points:
1-Real food is whole food
Friends, if it’s made in a factory, chances are the food you’re eating has been so denatured that there is little, if any, value remaining in it. In fact, such denatured food typically not only lacks the ability to contribute much to your nutritional needs, but can also affect you in negative ways by adding empty calories (calories without much nutrition) or chemical/synthetic additives which God did not create our bodies to process.
Our sources of food have changed so dramatically in the past couple hundred years and I believe we’re paying a hefty price for it. While incidences of communicable diseases have dropped thanks to many modern conveniences in developed nations, incidences of “lifestyle” diseases (cause by our diets and sedentary lifestyles) are dramatically on the rise. If we unknowingly (or knowingly in some circumstances) fall prey to these diseases, how will we be strong enough to continue spreading the Gospel message?
Every time we open our mouths to eat, we are making a choice to either build up our body and make it strong or bring it one step closer to disease or disfunction. The choice is ours. We all know that we have an enemy who seeks to “steal, kill, and destroy…”(John 10:10), but do we ever apply that truth to our food choices? If he wants us to be unwell, then he is going to lie to us in the moment and tempt us with choices that will bring harm to our bodies in the long run… ultimately taking us out of the race we’re running for the Lord.
We must recognize the battle and not give in to the lies that will keep us from living on mission for God. Unprocessed, whole food- as God originally made, is always going to be better than the alternative.
2-The importance of plants
There’s a lot of debate out there about what kind of diet/lifestyle is best for long-term health. While I’m not going to declare one as king of them all in this setting, I am going to make a declaration that we all already know, but yet often struggle to do, and that is to very simply eat more plants.
It’s not some hidden secret that plants contain innumerable amounts of enzymes, phytonutrients, antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, fiber, and more that are beneficial to our health. The changes in health seen around the world by those who decide to incorporate more into their lives can be jaw-dropping. All too often, we get distracted by what is trendy in culture at the moment- especially the latest “fad” diets. They make hefty claims for the short-term, but it’s the long-term that we should be more concerned with. We should be looking at credible science when making the best decisions for our health, but also God’s Word.
Have you ever thought about what God’s Word has to say about healthy living and the importance of plants in our diets? I know I hadn’t until several years ago. But now I see so many overarching themes that it’s impossible to deny. For the sake of time, I’m going to point out 3 important places in the Bible where the connection to plants and our health is unmistakable.
“Then God said, ‘Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is on the surface of all the earth, and every tree which has fruit yielding seed; it shall be food for you; and to every beast of the earth and to every bird of the sky and to every thing that moves on the earth which has life, I have given every green plant for food' and it was so.” Genesis 1:29-30 NASB
We were originally created to eat plants. It really can’t get much clearer than this. Our physiology even reflects these verses. We were not created with the teeth, digestive tract, stomach acid, or claws that carnivores or even omnivores have. Meat and junk food were not part of the original plan and our bodies agree. When our Creator God formed man and woman, He told them to be fruitful and multiply and then He told them what to eat. This fact alone should cause us to desire many more plants in our diets.
“But Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself with the portion of the king’s meat, nor with the wine which he drank: therefore he requested of the prince of the eunuchs that he might not defile himself.” Daniel 1:8
Daniel had a choice to make. And he seemed to make it quickly and without hesitation regarding his beliefs about what kind of meal he should be eating to keep himself strong in body and conscience. So he basically told them thanks, but no thanks. This had the king’s eunich a little concerned. But Daniel vowed to prove to him the benefit of his diet of plants.
“’Please test your servants for ten days, and let us be given some vegetables to eat and water to drink. Then let our appearance be observed in your presence and the appearance of the youths who are eating the king’s choice food; and deal with your servants according to what you see.’ So he listened to them in this matter and tested them for ten days. At the end of ten days their appearance seemed better and they were fatter than all the youths who had been eating the king’s choice food. So the overseer continued to withhold their choice food and the wine they were to drink, and kept giving them vegetables.” Daniel 1:12-16 NASB
Right here in Scripture, we have our very own Biblical case study which proved a diet of plants helped Daniel not only keep up with the others but actually appear MORE healthful and robust than those dining on the king’s foods!
The Bible both begins AND ends with a tree of life, fruit, and health. Before the curse AND after, God gives us a picture of a garden and perfect health. He does not give us the image of indulging in junk food for all of eternity, but rather an endless bounty of vegetation.
Questions to consider:
If what we’re currently doing is best, then why are the majority of prayer requests within the church about illnesses and diseases that could potentially be helped by eating more in line with “the original diet”? What harm is there in adding in more whole foods and plants into our diets?
Consider doing an “Eat More Plants” type of challenge with your people. (See free download with a worksheet for this below.) You could offer a cooking class that incorporates a large amount of vegetables or start an accountability group on Facebook. The Daniel Plan is also an excellent resource for your church or ministry.
The rest of this year, I’ll be back here periodically to talk about the specific areas we should be covering as we teach others (and learn for ourselves!) about wholistic health and what that might look like as a component of your ministry. In the meantime, feel free to join me over at http://fixyoureyesonhim.com for other wholistic health tips, resources, and more!
Amber Lauren of Fix Your Eyes on Him Biblical Health and Wholeness is the wife of a Senior Pastor of an energetic, growing local church, homeschooling mother of 3 school-aged children, and has a passion to empower people to become whole in Christ.
Link to free printable version of this article (and free “Eat More Veg” Challenge worksheet) for distribution (unaltered) to those in your ministry: https://fixyoureyesonhim.com/download/3173/