I got the idea for our subtitle for this week’s message from a new situation comedy. The show is about a family living in the 80’s and dealing with their differences from the norm. The father’s ancestors are from Scotland, while the mother is of African descent. The family’s adventures begin when they move from a commune into a suburban neighborhood. The story is told through the eyes of their 7th-grade daughter. “Being different is your superpower,” was the advice to the daughter as she completes a school project to create a storyboard about her family.
This worship series is about being different, or at least being a progressive leader in the war against poor health. Since Genesee County is at the bottom of the list of Michigan counties when ranked by health outcomes, we need to be different. Our health depends on it. Being different is our superpower. Food as medicine is about fighting poor health by treating our bodies as holy and making sure that the food that we eat is that which our body needs to function well.
Food as medicine is not just about the real food that we put into our bodies. What we do for our spiritual health is even more critical. We have heard that it is diet and exercise that affects our body shape. The truth is that it is diet, physical activity, and our connection to God that affects our overall health and well-being. And when we stay connected to God, we find ourselves being better neighbors, better to ourselves, and better to our planet. But, sadly, this means that we will be different than the norm.
Don’t you know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who lives in you and who was given to you by God?
1 Corinthians 6:19
In Paul’s letter to the church in Corinth, he reminds us that our body is a temple for the Holy Spirit of God. Our bodies are holy. Most of us would not do things that would harm a church building. But most of us do a lot of harm to our bodies. If we are to host the Holy Spirit, our bodies are a church in the way that we go to a building for worship. Our bodies are temples.
I’ve noticed that conversations about what we should be eating can be frustrating. What we know about the impact of various foods changes. Are eggs bad for us? Is chicken better than red meat? What about butter? Should I give my children milk? Opinions and attitudes change. New studies sometimes appear to contradict prior studies. Special interest groups representing different food choices, such as beef, dairy, poultry, and pork, exert influence on how information is discovered and shared.
Isn’t it all about balance? This seems to be the default “throw up our hands” response when a room full of opinions cannot agree on the latest information. But a little bit of some things is not good for us, while small quantities of other choices may not be enough. The phrase “balanced diet” sounds healthy, while unbalanced anything seems problematic.
I admit that I may be more susceptible to extremes that seem to cause imbalances than other people I know. I occasionally utilize a strategy that suggests if a little bit is right, then a lot more is better. But I have learned that this doesn’t apply to ice cream and cookies. It doesn’t apply to a lot of good things. Even sunshine.
So what does it mean that our bodies are temples for the Holy Spirit? For one thing, it means that what we put into our bodies matter. This includes our mind and spirit. Fortunately, the Bible is full of practical advice. Jesus is a master teacher. So large servings of scripture are a good thing. Scripture contains loads of benefits and no calories.
Worship requires participation just like eating carrots is not the same thing as looking at them
Worship is another excellent way to keep our mind, body, and spirit in better shape. Worship requires participation. We cannot be spectators on Sunday morning and call it worship. That would be like turning on a football game and claiming that we played football. We only watched football. Worship requires participation, just like eating carrots is not the same thing as looking at them.
Speaking of carrots. Our Asbury Farms team has planted a lot of carrots that we hope to harvest this winter. While doing research a few years ago, I came across a story about carrots that I found insightful. As temperatures drop, carrots convert starches to sugars. The plant does this because it doesn’t want ice crystallization. If it gets ice crystallization, the carrot dies. The result is a sweeter carrot with more nutrients.
This series is motivated in part by what I learned about carrots. While a carrot is a plant, it is a living thing. And, like other living creations, plants flourish under ideal conditions and suffer when conditions threaten their health. And in the suffering that carrots experience from cold temperatures, their contribution to our well-being increases.
The letter from Paul continues with You do not belong to yourselves but to God; he bought you for a price. Christ suffered for our well-being, and we are healthier when we allow His sacrifice to have the maximum benefit on our lives. Just as watching carrots isn’t the same as eating them, keeping Christ at a distance, is not the same thing as allowing Christ into our lives.
We worship each Sunday at 10:30 am. I believe that God is calling you to join us. Come and participate in worship, not as a spectator, but as someone who belongs to God. I lead a short Bible study in the Asbury Café at 9:30 am. You can find more information about us on our website at FlintAsbury.org.