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What I've Learned Outside the Church

Updated: Jul 13, 2023

A few weeks ago I decided to revive my blog. I'm not even sure people read blogs anymore, but it doesn't matter. Maybe this sounds selfish, but writing out my thoughts is for my own benefit more than it is for yours, although I hope what is shared here will be something that brings value, depth, and more beauty to your Good Life, should you choose to read along.

You would think that my introductory posts would be fun, easy, and light. I could celebrate our gardening successes this year, post another list of kid-friendly snacks, pass along tried and true dinner recipes, or send you a virtual invitation into my paleo pantry. Those are all wonderful ideas, and have merit in their own right, but those topics don't really reflect my personality, my gifts, where I am currently in this season of life and health, or what's heavy on my heart to share. I feel compelled to communicate something different and much more difficult. I'll do my best to do so with humility and grace.

I want to talk about food, body stewardship, and the church. It's important for me that you know I am not writing this to shame, ridicule, or undermine fellow believers. I'm writing for just the opposite reason. I care about them. I am them. I care about how we live and act and represent Jesus to those around us. Because I believe time is short, and people are desperate.

I've been told that Jesus Christ, working through the local church, is the hope of the world. If this is true, then we had better have something hopeful to offer people. While I don't believe Christians corner the market on truth, I do believe we are uniquely given direct access to THE Truth, THE Life, and THE Way. For that reason, it seems to me that we should have answers and insight into life's most discouraging problems, even if we are still struggling to walk it out ourselves.

The Bible says we should be "salty," yet I fear we are mostly bland. We should shine like bright guiding lights, but instead we cower in corners of darkness. We are supposed to be godly ambassadors, but we behave more like shady car salesmen. We are called to have confidence and boldly proclaim truth, but sadly we are crushed with depression, doubt, deception, sickness, and anxiety - - just like the rest of the world.

Why would anyone be drawn to us?

We feed the hungry in our community! We take in orphans! We willingly give our money away! We are pleasant people! We do good things! We share our stuff!

No one cares.

There are plenty of secular, Godless organizations that do all of this, and more.

But we pray! We read our Bibles! We sing songs with spiritual lyrics! We don't curse, drink, smoke, or have sex outside of marriage! We vote for conservative politicians!

These behaviors don't impress anybody when they aren't lived out with integrity in all the other areas of our life. We are created body, soul, and spirit. To my knowledge, none is more important than the other. When we elevate one at the expense of another, we are missing the fullness of what we've been called to pursue, as well as an opportunity to be different - salty - in a world of depressing, tasteless sameness.

We vote to end abortion because we honor the sanctity of human life, yet we also destroy our own precious children's bodies with regular Chick-Fil-A meals, fruit-flavored cereal, and countless sleeves of Oreos and bags of Goldfish. We are outraged by the way young boys and girls are deceived into mutilating their bodies through gender transition, yet we also think it's an amazing feat of modern medicine when our own stomachs can be medically severed and stapled to bring appetites and bodies back to a socially acceptable size. We utilize daily injections that can - in just a few weeks - conveniently and magically help us shed weight that has accumulated over a series of decades, yet we also condemn those who take shortcuts around marriage vows. We read in the Bible how our bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, and that we are bought at a precious price, and then an hour or two later we meet for the church potluck that is heavy on poor quality desserts, chips and soda, and paltry on the actual food that God designed for us to eat. We proudly abstain from alcohol, but let loose with weekend frappuccinos and daily Diet Cokes. We talk about the beauty of His marvelous creation, and then hole up in our houses for hours on end under fluorescent lights, barely leaving the couch or computer screen - watching Netflix, YouTube, video games, and the latest social media feed, oftentimes foregoing proper rest and solid nutrition as we do so.

It's sad and ironic to me that I had to step outside of the church to learn the very basics about caring for the body that was divinely designed for you and for me. I learned from people who really don't think much of God or church or religion that alcohol is a cunning and worthy foe (take it on if you wish) that attacks the body from every angle, and that I need to sleep a solid 7-8 hours each night in order to be well. They taught me that consuming the wrong foods - products made in factories by nameless conglomerates - will make me fat and sick, and the right ones - the ones found in nature since the beginning of time - will build vitality and help protect me from avoidable modern diseases. I discovered the sun is a blessing, not a curse; and while I should certainly respect it, I need not fear it. I also understand now that being barefoot out in nature without my phone is free therapy and an amazing mood-lifter, and that unresolved trauma can manifest as fatal disease in the body. After many years of over-exercising, I finally understand that more is not better, and that a gentle walk and a cat nap can accomplish more than another grueling workout can. I've been exposed to various healing modalities...things I had never heard of before, or used to think were weird and possibly demonic. Now I at least have curiosity and appreciation for healing arts that don't involve cutting it out, burning it out, or medicating the body into a numbing chemical stupor.

Jesus laid His very own hands on people, cured blindness with mud and spit, cast demons out of men and into pigs, and told the lame to get up and walk. He said we would do greater things than these. We can broaden our minds about healing without being irresponsible about it. There is nothing holy or spiritual about pharmaceutical drugs or chemical injections, and yet we seem rather fond of them, and even glorify them, over real food nutrition, lifestyle modification, and so-called "ridiculous quack medicine." I gauge the attitudes of my "not churchy" friends and gather that they view Christians as clowns, not conquerors. Are we giving them reason to think this way?

It is predicted that by the year 2030, nearly half of the American population will be obese. Not just overweight. OBESE. Add in overweight and those who manifest other varieties of metabolic dysfunction, and it's closer to 80 percent. Maybe more. Average sperm count in 2045 is projected to be ZERO. This is not a typo. I don't fear what's to come, because I know God is always in control, never surprised or caught off guard, and is continually working out His plan as He has from the very beginning. But I can't help feeling discouraged that so many believers might not be in a position to fight - physically, emotionally, or spiritually, or even resist and stand firm, when that time comes. I always assumed that the parables in the Bible about the bridegroom returning and some not being ready was referring to their spiritual laziness and neglect of His Word. But maybe it has application for our physical and mental state as well. I don't see many strong, rugged, confident soldiers around. I do see a lot of demoralized and suffering casualties.

There might have been a place for donuts and coffee in church at one time, but it isn't now. I understand the reasoning and kind motive behind that practice - - to make newcomers feel at ease and comfortable. But maybe comfort is not what we should be aiming for. Perhaps we would be wise to enter a church service and recognize that we are standing on holy ground, preparing to set prisoners free and accomplish God's divine purposes in the world, not to casually frequent a vending machine filled with sugary mouth pleasure. Worldly leaders might joke about their big bellies, double chins, and love of fast food, but mindful pastors should model self-discipline and holistic health to congregations that are so in need of positive role models. Secular organizations might seduce children with junk food and candy, but our youth leaders must abandon such careless behaviors. The church should not be making unhealthy food available in their buildings for the same reason that we don't offer the congregation mocktails, sponsor poker parties, or lay out copies of the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition in the sanctuary.

Addiction is real. People are in bondage with these behaviors. I don't know if I should say even in the church, or especially in the's sometimes hard to tell any difference. You might be able to pass up the Krispy Kreme and the tray of cookies, but there are those all around you who simply CANNOT. They desire that sugar hit like you desire oxygen. Why are we tempting them? Why are we causing them to stumble? Why are we undermining their health and healing instead of supporting it?

Maybe if the church gets real and does embrace this kind of health revolution, embraces a deep love and reverence for God, ourselves, and others, we might actually stand out as a "peculiar people." People who attract, confound, heal, nurture, and inspire. People who have something hopeful and compelling to offer the world.

Matthew 5:13-16 NIV - - “You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot. “You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.

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