Should We Help Ourselves or Help Others?

Some may ask, “Why would three Christian ministers spend precious ministry time concerning themselves with the physical health of other Christians? Why are they not using their collective effort to reach out to the lost? Are disciples not supposed to concern themselves with the eternal wellness of others over their own physical wellness?” There are certainly theological grounds for such questions, but these questions might miss the deeper reality of our efforts. We attempted to answer these sorts of questions in our previous posts, but I want to speak from another angle, a little less theologically and a little more practically.

The nature of this project is certainly geared towards people who are already walking the Christian life. Primarily, this is a ministry to the Church. Many such ministries exist, and Christians accept them as effective tools for ministry because such ministries are often geared at making the Christian disciple more effective for the Kingdom, making them better teachers, preachers, counselors, leaders, etc. We believe this project has the same Kingdom goal in mind. Simply put, the question should not be, “Why are these guys out to help the church and ignoring the real needs of the lost?” This thought is too dualistic, pitting the church against the world. The church is emphatically for the world. We are not merely encouraging the Christian disciple to better the self for the sake of self. So, what does physical wellness as a benefit to the Kingdom of God look like?

Our time here on this earth is certainly limited, and, as John Wesley suggests, we are in the business of saving souls. With this in mind, we need not waist any time. Now, this certainly does not mean that we as humans can save persons on our own. We do not save souls ourselves, but we are still a part of the business. God has called us to be His tools for His spreading of the gospel. He is the true worker; we are His means. For this use alone is a disciple called to proclaim the Kingdom. How does physical discipline aid in the goal of spreading the good news of the Kingdom? One quick theological answer (because I cannot help myself) is that the physical is included in the eternal, but I am getting ahead of myself. Back to practicality…

Let us assume that the three of us (Shane, Richard and I) each have fifty years of ministry left in us, if God does not bring us to Him sooner. That is one hundred and fifty collective years of service for the Kingdom. That is well and good. Let us imagine that we focused merely on training disciples to be better in evangelism, and we spoke little to never upon physical wellness as a means of furthering the Kingdom. Let us also imagine, for the sake of keeping numbers manageable in this illustration, that through our collective efforts, we impacted ten lives, and ten ministers went on to preach the gospel more effectively. Now, let us imagine that these ten individuals had fifty years of effective ministry left in them. That leads to five hundred collective years of more effective ministry that our effort produced just in the first generation. Very well.

Now, how could teaching about physical wellness ever improve upon this Kingdom phenomenon? Let us change the parameters of our scenario and assume that we were able to influence these ten Christian disciples to take stock of their wellbeing and to take the best care of the gift of the body possible. Let us also imagine that this effort taught them to be more effective ministers of the gospel through the lessons learned about physical discipline. Let us finally imagine that these efforts added an average of ten good years of effective ministry to their lives, that because of our focused efforts upon wellness, these participants avoided degradation brought about from lack of proper physical care, diabetes, obesity, certain forms of cancer, and so on. The added benefit is one hundred collective years of additional, experienced ministry on top of the five hundred they were already projected to deliver. The result is six hundred years of effective ministry we were able to perpetuate with God’s guidance, not five hundred.

That is amazing. In this conservative estimation, we see one hundred years added to the ministry of the gospel simply by asking people to care for the bodies God gave them.

Make this practical:

We often dismiss our concern for ourselves, thinking such efforts might be selfish, but this is not a question of helping self or helping the lost. Helping the self adds effective years of serving the church, and the church serves the world.

So, ask yourself:

What if I took better care of myself? Could that not lead to more years of effective Christian ministry?

Do we not have an obligation to do as much as we can?

Think about the practicality…we can get more theological later…

Tell us what you think:

-TM

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  • http://www.mattbrady.net/ Matt Brady

    I think you guys hit it right on the head. While we can certainly let “health and fitness” become an idol as easily as we can the opposite, it should be our goal to maintain a healthy lifestyle just like we would in every other area (spiritual, mental, etc.).

    • EchoStaff

      Discipline certainly takes balance. We address the idol issue in an article coming this Wednesday…

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