I believe there is more to this concept of “The Body of Christ” than what first comes to mind. On one hand, it refers to those of us who follow Jesus (“Yeshua” in Hebrew, “Joshua” the Greek transliteration), the Son of God, who became man, suffered and died in our place so we can become the children of God again. In order to die, he had to have a mortal body. In Christian theology, Yeshua is fully human and fully divine. So, there is the actual body of Christ that was crucified, buried, and resurrected in three days.
Yet today, when we speak of the Body of Christ, we mean all of us who are called by his name. As his disciples, we are to fulfill the Great Commission, to go to the ends of the earth, if need be, to tell everyone about salvation through Jesus. I call this worldwide collection of Christians “Ecclesia.”
Of course, to go to the ends of the earth, or even to minister to our neighbors, to clothe the naked, feed the hungry, or visit the sick, we need to use our bodies. We can’t do that if we are falling apart from illnesses such as diabetes, heart failure, cancer, cirrhosis, etc. We cannot climb a hill to reach a village with the Gospel if we get short of breath walking around the block because we smoke a pack of cigarettes a day or fill up on fries and soft drinks.
I do not believe it is a coincidence that three article assignments for The Good News newspaper revolved around wellness issues in the Body of Christ. A woman who owns a Christian based fitness business said she noticed most members of the gifted, faith-filled choir in her church were significantly overweight. Another article was about a RN/Reverend’s program to promote and teach wellness and health management to groups in churches because our health is a theological matter, and pastors should address this from the pulpit along with prayer and scripture.
In the first chapter of the The Daniel Plan, co-author Rick Warren (Pastor of Saddleback Church and author of 40 Days of Purpose) writes about his epiphany. One day, he was baptizing 827 adults with full immersion. That day, based on the average (heavy) weight of Americans, he lifted 145,000 pounds and he was pooped! He realized also, that he too was overweight and decided that, yes, God expects us to care for our bodies. As a result, with the help of Doctors Daniel Amen, Mark Hyman, and Mehmet Oz, he wrote The Daniel Plan — a guide to wellness based on faith, food, fitness, focus, friendship. If you recall, the prophet Daniel and his fellow Jews in confinement, refused to eat the (non-kosher) rich food provided by the king and made a bet with their keepers. He challenged them to feed them vegetables and water for several days, and then compare their health with those who were eating the rich fare. They were far healthier, and hence, the name of Warren’s book. (If losing weight or getting healthy heads your resolution list, I highly recommend The Daniel Plan.)
Like Daniel, this year I challenged myself (truly in sorry shape) and our food industry’s standard American diet (S.A.D.) by eating mainly whole food, plant based, non-GMO and organic food. I do include some organic meat and fresh caught low-mercury fish. (I especially liked the book by Christina Pirello, I’m Mad as Hell and am Not Going to Eat it Anymore!) After a year, I admit it made a huge difference in my life and I’m not looking back!
Ecclesia! is about this huge congregation of believers and includes our history, how we worship, evangelize, and frankly, how we live simply from day to day. Why should I be sidelined in my service to Christ by what is at the end of my fork?