16 October 2020
I don’t remember a time when we’ve been so aware of our physical health, and the threat to it. And that’s understandable. People are still dying, and our hospitals are filling up again. We’re also very aware of the health of our economy, as jobs are lost and businesses close. And there’s a tension between staying healthy physically and keeping the economy healthy. And we’re becoming increasingly aware of the threat to people’s mental health – especially, tragically, in our care homes – as if the residents haven’t suffered enough already.
But how much do we think about our spiritual health? It’s not as if other kinds of health aren’t important to God. Paul advises Timothy to use a little wine because of his stomach – and I don’t think he means for external application only! John wishes that his dear friend Gaius may enjoy good health, just as he is progressing spiritually. And Jesus would hardly have healed so many people if physical health was unimportant to him. And he probably has even more to say about financial health, touching often on greed and giving and generosity.
But we need to get things in their right proportions. Just as many have discovered that physical health and relationships, especially family, are more important than possessions or employment, so we need to re-learn this truth, that “Physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come.” Our physical life matters – it’s a gift from God – but it has a sell-by date, while our spiritual life is imperishable.
And nothing does us more good than to meet with God’s people and to hear his word from one another. We probably don’t realise how many competing voices we hear in a typical week: from our families, from work colleagues, from the media, in our own heads. But where and when are we hearing the voice of Almighty God, our heavenly Father?
And there’s something special about hearing that word together and from each other. Dietrich Bonhoeffer said that, “Christians need other Christians who speak God’s Word to them.” Why is that? Because, he says, “The Christ in their own hearts is weaker than the Christ in the word of other Christians.” We need each other. “Encourage one another daily,” says the writer to the Hebrews, “as long as it is called ‘Today’, so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness.” I have the privilege of being paid to speak to you of Christ, but my greatest need is to hear you speak of Christ to me.
Lord, thank you for my brothers and sisters who speak your word to me. May I be faithful in speaking your word to them. Amen.