No room for flabby Christians challenge 20/10/2016 – Topic: Health – 1st Place

“One in five children start school obese.” The headlines scream from the newsstands, proclaiming the latest health epidemic. World Health Organisation figures for 2014 indicate a worldwide problem with the highest concentrations in richer countries such of northern Europe and North America. Africans and Asians are least likely to be overweight, no doubt because they have the fewest resources.

In a dramatic turnaround, it is the poorer communities in rich countries where the problem of obesity is growing most rapidly. Before the industrial revolution of the 18th and 19th centuries, most people worked so hard and ate so sparingly that there was little chance to get fat. Wealthy people, on the other hand, had servants in the house, and tenant farmers on the land. With plenty of money and little exercise, a large belly became a sign of status.

Today, most manual workers have machines to assist in the physical tasks, and office workers spend much time sat down both at work and at home. Supermarkets stock processed foods with high salt, sugar and fat contents. In contrast, those with money can pay for gym membership and eat organic fresh produce, leading to better physical health and well-being, whereas such things are out of the reach of many working people.

A good balance of work, rest and play has always been the best regime for health and happiness. The difficulty in the 21st century is persuading people to put down their electronic gadgets, switch off the television and explore the exciting world around them. This would enhance their emotional well-being, whilst strengthening their bodies against a host of potential illnesses

The same problem exists in the spiritual realm, perhaps also exacerbated by technology. Many people in the west seem to want a ready-prepared, pre-packaged church experience. The biblical concept of identifying and using spiritual gifts is often ignored. Yet unless we combine personal reflection, corporate worship and community engagement, our faith can become flabby and weak, no use to us or anyone else.

In the same way that exercise is more enjoyable in company, let’s encourage each other to engage in deep relationship with God and others;  let’s make our churches and communities places that people can encounter warm human fellowship and the deep love of our creator God.



About prophetable

My wife Elizabeth and I were commissioned as Officers (ministers) in The Salvation Army in 1997, and have served in appointments in England and Scotland. Since July 2016 I have been working in The Salvation Army's Scotland Office as combined parliamentary and ecumenical representative.
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