Caring for the Temple

Caring for the Temple by Jennifer SienesFriday morning, my husband, Chris, and I headed down to Carmel to celebrate my (51st) birthday. We’ve gotten into the habit of listening to podcasts when we’re driving long distances, and our favorites are those from Focus on the Family. I like the variety of subject matter, although, truth be told, I generally bypass any to do with raising children (except interviews with friend and fellow writer, Joanne Kraft). That boat’s sailed, and since there aren’t any grandchildren on the horizon, they don’t pertain at this point in my life.

Instead, we’ve listened to discussions on marriage (some hysterical, all practical), politics, faith, building relationships, church dissension—the topics are endless. I don’t think we’ve ever finished with one of the 28-minute segments and said, “Well, that was a waste of time.” Often, I’ll flip through the selection and find it difficult to choose only one that sounds interesting. Friday, we finally settled on a two-part interview with Gary Thomas (author of Sacred Marriage) on healthy living. This sounded especially interesting to us since we’re self-professed health nuts. Chris had given a talk at our church several months ago on this topic, and I was curious to see how Gary Thomas would approach it.

I doubt most people would think of healthy living as Biblical. There are those who believe Christians shouldn’t drink alcohol and others who feel smoking is wrong, neither of which are forbidden in the Bible. But the idea of a healthy diet and daily exercise? Gary Thomas used the same verse Chris did when discussing the topic of taking care of our bodies:

1 Corinthians 6:19-20 “Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s.”

We live in a fast-paced, fast-food culture where 24 hours in a day is not nearly enough time to get everything done, let alone add more onto our already full plates. There are many who think Chris and I are crazy to get up before the crack of dawn in order to get time in the Word and time on the treadmill before starting our work day. But our spiritual lives are empty without quiet time with God, and unless we’re healthy, we can’t do the work He calls us to.

When Chris was preparing for his health talk all those months ago, he pulled up some pretty startling statistics. One of the saddest was that our children will be the first generation less healthy than the one before them. What kind of role modeling are we doing when we have a dramatic increase in child obesity and diabetes in this country?

What’s wrong with this picture? According to a report published in The American Journal of Medicine, medical bills are a major factor in more than 60 percent of the personal bankruptcies in the United States. Of those bankruptcies that were caused by medical bills, approximately 75 percent of them involved individuals that actually did have health insurance.

Is that good stewardship of what God gives us?

Standing on the Carmel beach Friday and Saturday evenings, watching the sun dip down below the horizon, I was taken aback by the beauty God’s created around us. We, too, are His glorious creation. And yet, so many of us treat our bodies with casual disrespect in how we fuel it and care for it, and it’s the temple of the Holy Spirit! I’m speaking to myself as much as anyone—there’s always room for improvement.

Our bodies are a gift from God—a gift that comes with responsibility. The impact on this country due to the blatant disregard for our health could very well be one of its major downfalls. We want to blame everyone and everything else—economic difficulties, high insurance costs, violence, blah, blah, blah. It’s time we start with what we do have control over—our own health.

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