Friday, April 13, 2012

Spiritual Fitness

I've been working out a bit more recently, and I thought I'd mention the following minor insight, while I continue work on a more scripture-centered post on "religion."
A person's internal health does not necessarily correspond with their current external behaviors. A fitness instructor who just switched to a sedentary lifestyle will still be in better shape than a couch potato who just started exercising. Also a man who appears in equal health to another might secretly be dying of cancer. But the externals do nonetheless have great impact on direction toward better health or toward degradation. So it is with religion.
I won't go into everything that this relates to, but I'll bring up a few points. One, there could obviously be someone who talks about eating healthy (or talks about church), but dines solely on Crisco (or doesn't even try to live a loving life). There could be someone who runs past your window, but then sits wheezing around the corner on his phone, ordering a pizza. Or someone might go to the gym just to drink protein shakes and take a nap in the sauna. But usually, someone making some effort to run or go to the gym is doing something good for their body, not just putting on a show. Similarly, the externals of religion are usually connected at least to some extent to a real desire for spiritual growth, and are a "part of a healthy spiritual lifestyle."

I do mean this to relate to charges of hypocrisy, complaints of  imperfect Christians, and maybe some things I can't remember, but my main point is that the internal relationship with Jesus does relate to externally visible religious practices, just as internal health relates to externally visible exercise and eating habits, and that in many cases a casual observer cannot gather enough information to really make any kind of judgements.

On the other hand, there are still many actions which can be judged themselves to be unhealthy. If you see someone smoking a pack a day, gaining a hundred pounds in the last year, or losing a limb, these tend to be signs of poor or declining health. Similarly, boasting of sexual exploits, treating everyone as an idiot, or sacrificing children to Moloch tend to be signs of poor or declining spiritual health.