Sometimes that feels like an oxymoron to me.
Christians, for many reasons, don’t prioritize health. And I think that’s a big problem.
It’s not only a problem for our health and happiness, but for the ways these two things impact those around us. Our lifestyles speak. In a way, your health and how you live say something about the God you serve.
“I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” (John 10:10)
Jesus is talking about this life. So wouldn’t you expect to see Christians living lives that look radically different, spiritually and emotionally and physically?
Christian health today
This is obviously a generalization, as each of us is different. But Christian health seems to be declining right along with the rest of the world. There’s plenty of anxiety, allergies, and autoimmune diseases to go around. And our diets! Yikes!
For example, Christian potlucks. They are notoriously un-nutritious. Frog-eyed salad, anyone?
The (aggravating) answer I get from lots of Christians I have this conversation with goes something like this: “Well, you gotta remember that we’re all going to die anyway.”
Really? So health should be completely ignored?
“Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die.” (1 Corinthians 15:32)
In this verse, Paul was berating the people who act as if this life is all there is. But as Christians, we can “over-spiritualize” this life to the point where we think it’s actually spiritual to NOT care about our bodies or health. We know this life isn’t all there is, but we use that as a free pass to live selfishly.
My husband knew a lady who said she wanted to let God decide when she lived or died. So she ate crap food, and never wore a seatbelt.
Wow. What sort of respect does that show the Author of life?
God has given you a body and a brain, so that you can use them to glorify him. Let’s take a step back and look at why health should matter to Christians.
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All verses are in the NIV translation unless stated otherwise.
Why health matters
As Christians, there are a few things we should already understand.
- There’s no reincarnation (Hebrews 9:27). This one human life is all we get.
- Our purpose in this life is to glorify and enjoy God, reconciling others to him (2 Corinthians 5:18).
In light of these two facts, shouldn’t we be doing all we can to make sure we’re capable of doing things for God’s glory and to build the Kingdom of God while we can?
This life is our one chance to do that. In eternity our faith will be sight, and no one will need to be converted. We won’t need any more faith. How are we supposed to serve God to the fullest if we’re sick all the time, or terribly out of shape, or our cognitive ability is declining prematurely? (These fates are all completely preventable, by the way)
And more than that, how are we supposed to help lead others to God and encourage them to serve Him and the Kingdom if people are kept busy caring for us in our failing health? My opinion is that it’s a lot easier to walk in faith if you can, you know, actually walk….
Too many Christians only talk about health and diet as if they’re dangerous potential idols that can pull you away from God.
I’ve heard many pastors say that a perfect diet won’t make you more godly or make God love you more, and yes, that’s true! But generally, focusing too much on health is NOT our problem. Instead, we over-spiritualize godly living to the point where we ignore physical facts and forget we’re aren’t just a soul- we have a body too, and one worth caring for!
Body, soul, and mind. We’re one. We need to care for each and every aspect if we’re going to live life holistically, to the fullest. Our spiritual health and our physical health are linked. This is why it’s not just important to be spiritually healthy- if you’re missing out on physical health in your lifestyle and choices, you’re missing a lot.
We live in a post-curse world
Just to clear something up, we do live in a fallen world.
I know that.
Diseases are unavoidable to a certain extent, and our bodies are falling apart (2 Corinthians 4:16). But, as that verse also says, “we do not lose heart”. We don’t give up. Things aren’t perfect, and none of us are promised perfect health, in fact, we’re promised problems (John 16:33). but that doesn’t mean we aren’t responsible for our health.
I think this fallen world means we have even more of a responsibility for how we’re living.
Living in a world that’s falling apart makes it obvious where our hope and value lies, and it brings even more glory to a perfect God. He stands out.
And if we’re following him, we should too.
We have a temple
Back in the Old Testament, the Israelites had a glorious temple where they could worship and pray and honor God. When Israel was taken by Babylon, the temple was destroyed.
It took years for the Israelites to return to their homeland, and then it took them a while to rebuild the temple as God commanded- see the book of Haggai. (It’s a short book- you can read the whole thing in 5 minutes)
And many more years later, Jesus came and really shook things up. He started referring to the temple as himself (John 2:19) and finally bridged the gap between man and God. He made a way for the Holy Spirit to live in us, not just in a special building for one group of people.
WE are that glorious temple now.
“Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies.” (1 Corinthians 6:19-20)
“Is it a time for you yourselves to be living in your paneled houses, while this house remains a ruin?” (Haggai 1:4)
If the Israelites were commanded to rebuild the temple, I believe we have that same mandate.
If you’re falling apart because of symptoms, a dysfunctional gut, an autoimmune disease, or a chronic illness, you don’t just have to sit there while your body, your temple, falls apart around you.
You need to actually treat your body like the temple it is!
If you’re a believer, you’re a home to the Holy Spirit, and that incredible fact demands a response- beyond that, Christian health also comes with a blessing.
What are we doing to our temples?
By pursuing health -a strong, functional temple for the Spirit inside us- we can better serve God and honor his holy dwelling place.
Do you understand that? That your body is holy?
If we follow the Author of Life, the God who commands us not to murder, then why do we eat processed foods, breathe in toxins, lead sedentary lives, and do other things that are killing us?
I think one of the biggest reasons is that we’ve been tricked.
Satan “comes only to steal and kill and destroy” (John 10:10). Look at what we’ve done to the world we’ve been given. We pollute our air, water, and food, and transform foods that were once good into a toxic, processed mess. We are slaves to our stressed, busy lives, devalue self-care, and think it’s more godly that way.
I think these are one of the many symptoms of the lies Satan has been feeding us from the beginning- the lies that tell us that our way of doing things is better than God’s way.
So what is God’s way?
Healthy living in the Bible
God knows about health and the human body. He made both.
“I am the Lord, who heals you.” (Exodus 15:26)
In the Old Testament, God taught the Israelites what to eat, how to quarantine themselves, fast, store food, and clean up after themselves.
These were all ideas far ahead of their time.
In Exodus 30, God told Moses to make an oil out of myrrh, cinnamon, calamus, and cassia. This oil was to be used for anointing the altar and other sacred areas. This oil was aromatic, but it was more than a perfume- it would have been a powerful antimicrobial to help sanitize the areas that had blood on them from sacrifices!
In sanitary practices, God also commanded the Israelites to go outside of the camp to relieve themselves, and to bury the waste. (Deuteronomy 23:12-13) Doing so reduced the risk of diseases such as E. coli, dysentery, and cholera.
These laws were prescribed around 3,500 years ago, and yet, up until World War I, more soldiers died from improper treatment of human waste than from the war.
God knows about health.
Shouldn’t we listen to him instead of the fad health ideas and trends of the past 50 years? Christians, of all people, should be going to God for ideas on how to treat health and how to live in a way that honors him and benefits our bodies, our temples.
Why Christian health should be the best in the world
If we follow Jehovah-Rapha -the God who heals, then how should our lives reflect that?
Christians should be the healthiest people on the planet.
In studies done on Blue Zones -places where we can find the people who actually live the longest, healthiest lives on this planet- researchers found a few key facts.
These people live in strong communities, put family first, eat local foods (mostly plants), stay active, lead simple lives, and have a purpose. (source)
Doesn’t that sound like how Christians should be living?
Why we aren’t healthy
Like I stated above, we’ve been lied to. We’ve acted out of fear, and we’ve gone along with the crowd, trusting in people while forgetting God.
For example, the average divorce rate among Christians is exactly the same as the rest of the population. Divorce affects health in huge ways- for more information and studies on that, you can check out my article on how divorce affects health.
We’ve separated theology from the rest of our lives.
Our health, amongst other things, has been the cost.
We Christians say that we trust God and look only to him for fulfillment, and then we go home to a bowl (or two) of ice cream when we’re feeling crummy.
Now, ice cream and every other processed food have been carefully tested and engineered to be as addicting as possible, but that doesn’t mean we’re doing the right thing in eating as much ice cream as we want.
An attractive idol is still an idol.
Or we can idolize our doctors, who put themselves in a place that only God should stand when they tell us we only have 6 months to live. Only God is omniscient, but we don’t act like that’s true.
“Fear of man will prove to be a snare, but whoever trusts the Lord is kept safe” (Proverbs 29:25)
I think it’s time for all of this to start changing! Let me tell you a little about how I believe we should live as Christians, and how Christian health should look different from everyone else.
Health lifestyle tips for Christians
“Go up into the mountains and bring down timber and build my house, so that I may take pleasure in it and be honored” (Haggai 1:8)
If you call yourself a Christian, I think there are some practical ways that you should live in regards to health and wellness. Following the God we say we serve should inform every bit of how we live our lives! And here’s the thing- living a truly Christian (“Christ-like”) life has countless indirect health benefits. Read on for a few of them!
These points aren’t directly from scripture, but I believe we can extrapolate them from what God has told us to do. To me, these tips seem like basic elements of faith living itself out in action. I also believe that applying these principles will transform your health!
Here are my tips on how to live healthfully as a Christian:
We shouldn’t be ignorant
“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and instruction.” (Proverbs 1:7)
The first step is to become informed, knowledgeable people. God has given us wonderful brains, along with a world full of healing plants (more on that later) and functional healing solutions, so shouldn’t we learn about them?
Do research. Learn about new things. Follow your intuition and ask God for the information you’re missing if you’re struggling with health issues. Don’t blindly follow people (including me). Search information out for yourself and keep an open mind. And don’t over-spiritualize your life to the point where you’re ignoring research and physical health!
Prayer needs to be a priority
There have been numerous unbiased studies showing the effects prayer can have, on the person praying and on the person being prayed over- even when they don’t know they’re being prayed for. Science can’t explain it, but they can verify it- prayer is huge in healing! (source)
We should be praying for ourselves, friends, and family more often. Then we need to have faith that God has answered us in bringing healing, spiritual or physical. We should pray because God tells us to (1 Thessalonians 5:17) and because it can transform us and those around us.
Physically, praying before a meal also aids digestion. Prayer helps put your body in a parasympathetic state, which is the state your body needs to be in so that it can digest food and absorb nutrients. Prayer is an important habit for a healthy lifestyle.
Related: 10 healthy habits you need to start right now
We should stop worrying so much
Going along with the last point- if we’re praying more, we won’t be worrying as much (Philippians 4:6-7). Worry shows that we’re trusting our own life more than God and his provision. We’re commanded not to worry in many places in the Bible (such as Matthew 6:25) and I think that’s because God knows how much stress and worry break down our bodies.
Stress puts your body in a fight or flight mode. Chronic stress is toxic, and it ruins your digestion, sleep, immune system, and other bodily functions. You need peace and rest in order to function mentally and heal physically and emotionally.
Choose rest over stress whenever possible. Rest is important- honoring the Sabbath is still part of the ten commandments, and God knows it’s for our good.
We need to sleep
Next, since sleep is vital for health, we should prioritize sleep to honor God and serve him the best we can. Now I’m not talking about being lazy and sleeping in til 10 every day, but we should be getting the sleep we need.
Today so many people in the US make a god out of busyness, but overworking is incredibly harmful. Don’t do that to yourself. Stress is toxic, but rest and sleep are rejuvenating and healing. Detox and reparation happen when we’re asleep.
“In peace I will lie down and sleep, for you alone, Lord, make me dwell in safety.” (Psalm 4:8)
If you aren’t able to fall asleep, try opening your Bible. God might want to talk to you. And if it’s a regular occurance that you can’t sleep well or don’t feel rested, check out my post on how to sleep better, all-naturally!
Community should be prioritized more
Just like in Blue Zones, if we want healthy lives, we need to be in community. Having a strong group of friends to support and encourage you is vital if you want to live a long and healthy life!
We need to “carry each other’s burdens” (Galatians 6:2) and have a group we can go to for prayer, support, and just to share life together. Obviously, that should be our church, but so many times we don’t act like family. We just meet together. Focus on knowing each other, and being known, for a healthy life- physically, spiritually, and emotionally.
Our diets NEED to change
Sigh. This is a big one. God gave humans amazing, perfect food to eat in the Garden of Eden, and we’ve gone so far downhill from there because of sin. We eat processed foods and animal products that are killing us. Are these foods serving us, or are we serving them?
We need to look out for idols. Are you “worshiping” an idol of sugar or fake food when you go to the fridge, looking for comfort or fulfillment? One book I enjoy about this topic is Love to Eat, Hate to Eat: Breaking the Bondage of Destructive Eating Habits. You can get it cheap on Amazon!
I’m not really going to recommend a particular diet- we’re all created differently, so what your body works optimally with might not be the same fuel I work best on. I do know that sugar and processed foods are deadly, though. Your diet also impacts your mood, sleep, cancer risk, chronic illness, fertility, autoimmune diseases, and more.
Junk food ruins our health and shortens our lives- or at the very least, cuts short the amount of time we can serve God faithfully, with functional minds and bodies.
“So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.” (1 Corinthians 10:31)
Honor God by eating real, whole foods instead
Get in tune with your body and what makes you feel best, and stick with real, good, nutrient-dense food. Let food be your medicine as God intended! (Ezekiel 47:12)
God didn’t give us meat to eat until after the flood (Genesis 9:3) and after that point, life expectancy plummeted. I’m not saying those are necessarily cause-and-effect, but just look at far we’ve come since our food in the Garden of Eden.
Research it for yourself, but I believe that the closer we can get to the foods eaten in the Garden of Eden (as in whole, natural fruits and veggies, produced without chemicals or GMOs) the healthier and happier we’ll be.
What you eat is like the food brought into God’s temples- God cares about it, and your choices matter. Honor God through your food choices.
Honor God by fueling your body with foods that will nourish and support it. Choose whole foods instead of eating things that will tear your body down, make you feel terrible, and wreck your gut (and from there, destroy your immune system -since 70% of your immune system is in your gut- and cause all sorts of diseases and chronic conditions).
Just ask yourself- did God make this, or did man make this? With this perspective, you can start seeing how all foods fall into one of these two categories. Which is better: natural, whole, organic fruits and veggies, or processed foods, antibiotic-laden meat from mistreated animals, and artificial flavors?
If you have constant bloating, gas, heartburn, skin problems, or digestion issues, your body is trying to tell you something. We’re made to heal, so help your body do what’s it’s designed to do by staying away from junk food! Those are all warning signs before something worse happens. Listen and change.
For some easy ideas for healthy eating, check out these recipes: 25 healthy recipes with hidden veggies, homemade sugar-free applesauce, fluffy gluten-free biscuits.
We need to cut down on toxins
As stewards of our bodies, and Christians following the ten commandments (which includes “Do Not Murder”), we really need to stop mindlessly exposing ourselves to so many deadly toxins. We all have exposure to some toxins, but our bodies have limits.
Increasing your toxic body burden can result in a myriad of harmful diseases and chronic illness, including cancer! I have a whole guide on reducing toxins for better health- you can view it here.
Get out in nature
“The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands.” (Psalm 19:1) Creation is one way that we can know the Creator better. Go out there and see his works!
Experiencing nature by going for a walk or just getting some sunshine is like a natural antidepressant. We aren’t created to stay inside all day! Going outside can help you feel inspired and more energetic.
Related: Natural remedies for more energy
You can also experience the many benefits of grounding– for more on what that is, go to this post on the life-changing health benefits of grounding.
I could go on and on about the health benefits of being in nature- you escape EMFs, soak in Vitamin D from sunshine, get away from stale indoor air, and clear your mind! Nature is peaceful and we all need more time outdoors- especially if you want to connect with the One who made it all!
Stay open-minded to the healing methods God has given us
I think that as Christians, we can tend to write off methods of healing that seem to belong to other belief systems. This includes Ayurvedic medicine, Chinese medicine, and medical marijuana. Because certain groups are associated with certain methods, we just throw the methods themselves out the window.
This is ridiculous! Yoga and meditation are not inherently sinful. Smudge sticks are not just for witches. It has to do with your heart -which, yes, you need to guard- (Proverbs 4:23) but not at the cost of your healing.
“For everything God created is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving, because it is consecrated by the word of God and prayer.” (1 Timothy 4:4-5) -This verse includes herbs, organic foods, essential oils, and, yes, medical marijuana. Don’t fear the methods. Instead, be on the lookout for people who use good, God-given methods and twist them for their own use and profit.
Practical application? Buy a sage smudge stick -they really work to cleanse the air in your home!
God has given us so many natural methods for healing and living well that go way beyond just going to church or the doctor. Keep an eye out for chances to learn about those methods!
“Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” (1 Thessalonians 5:18) Guess what- God’s will is for our good!
Gratitude changes your mind and your life from the inside out. Being thankful has been scientifically proven to be linked to lower depression, greater self-esteem, better physical health, and better sleep. (source)
Related: How to sleep better, all-naturally!
Making gratitude a regular part of your life -whether through journaling, meditative practice, or prayer- will radically change your attitude and your health!
Along with gratitude, hope is another thing that seems purely mental, but it is actually something that can affect your physical health in huge ways.
I believe hope is one of the best medicines we have.
People who lose hope also lose their health. Inversely, hope is a major part of every recovery and healing miracle. “And this hope will not lead to disappointment.” (Romans 5:5, NLT) Your mindset plays a huge role in how your body behaves and heals itself. Positive thinking / energy / vibes aren’t some wishy-washy ideals. They really do change you from the inside out!
Christians have the best reasons to have hope too. We have a powerful God who loves us, and a perfect eternity to look forward to!
If we all really committed to living in these ways, then as a community, we would look radically different from unbelievers. We’d live longer, happier, healthier, more vibrant lives. Our health could be a way that we become a light to the nations (Matthew 5:14).
Does it make sense to you why Christians really should be the healthiest people on the planet? Our faith should manifest itself in how we treat and nourish our bodies, just like every other gift we’re given.
How we steward our bodies speaks towards what sort of God we serve. What diety are your life choices pointing towards?
If you’d like to learn more, I’d encourage you to start with my Guide on Reducing Toxins. It’s full of simple steps to help remove harmful chemicals from your house, so that you can start pursuing a healthy, abundant life!
“I pray that you may enjoy good health and that all may go well with you, even as your soul is getting along well.” (3 John 1:2) This is my prayer for all of you. I hope that we all can discover more and more about living long, healthy, thriving lives!
What changes do you want to make in your life to glorify God by living healthier? Comment your intentions below!