Maximum potential, Maximum Benefit

Just recently I engaged in a conversation that accused The Echo Life of preaching the gospel of health, wealth and prosperity, that we were preaching the “name it and claim it” theology. But that couldn’t be farther from the truth. So what exactly are we doing here?  In fact, we are talking about things that add further action to the typical Christian life — things that certainly don’t make life easier. We stand for so much more than simply living life day-in and day-out, waiting for death so that we can escape to a heavenly reward. The bottom line is that we’re called to build the Kingdom of God. Here on earth.

How can we travel the road of Kingdom builders if we don’t believe that we experience profound spiritual truth through physical acts? If we cease to operate as Christians in the physical realm, how could we ever benefit the Kingdom?

If we are truly called to build the Kingdom, the very Kingdom that Jesus taught was at present, but not yet fully established, then it makes sense that we would want to give ourselves every opportunity, indeed every chance, to develop ourselves spiritually, physically, and mentally until our last breath. It is the whole person living at maximum potential that will bring the maximum benefit to the Kingdom.

Simply, we believe that the body is beautifully and wonderfully made. It was designed to be put to use as a sacrifice for the benefit of the Kingdom of God. Would we be so careless with this precious life to focus our efforts only on spiritual formation and the wellness of the soul, as if the body did not matter?

Would we sacrifice the body for such a result: A mature soul in a unmaintained body that cannot, due to neglect, carry the message out into the world? Again, if profound spiritual truths are experienced through physical acts, are we not robbing Peter to pay Paul by forsaking the body for the soul? There will be a glorified body and eternal reward waiting for us upon the resurrection and it is absolutely in our best interest to follow the teachings of Jesus. But, the resurrection does not give us warrant to sit on the sidelines. Until that day, we must live balanced lives that include spiritual formation and physical wellness if we are to truly be prepared to offer our lives as living sacrifices for Christ’s sake.

Proper nutrition, exercise, and the right amount of sleep are just a few examples of actions that have been shown to reduce health risks and increase longevity. Is it not our duty to the Kingdom of God to do what we can, with what we have, to the best of our ability for the benefit of the Kingdom?

If, yes, then it follows that we have a responsibility to take care of and steward our bodies to give ourselves the most amount of time to build that which we’re called to build, the Kingdom. We are given one life to live, one opportunity to offer our very best to the Kingdom, and I, for one, want every possible opportunity to get it right. After all, it was Paul who said, “To live is Christ but to die is gain.”

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  • nun

    I will take it a step further, you not only preach a prosperity gospel, but a dominion theology. NOWHERE in scripture does it say we set up the kingdom, Jesus comes back and sets up His kingdom. We inherit the kingdom, how can one build something that they inherit. Reading through your “about” section, is very clear you worship another Jesus, not the True Jesus of the Bible. You preach a very watered down, self idol worship, non sacrificing, worldly, new age Jesus, I am sorry to say but you do. When Paul talked about the temple and taking care of the temple, if you read it IN CONTEXT, he was talking in a spiritual sense, he was really referring more towards sexual sin. If you do historical research on those times, demon possesed woman flooded themselves at the temples, and engaged the men in sexual pursuits. Joining with someone sexual on those terms, among other terms does open doors to the demonic, hence defiling the temple (our bodies), as does drug use, certain types of music, dabbling with the occult etc etc. So I am sorry to say, but your claim of this taking care of your temple, and worship of health and exercise, is very UNscriptural. Your motives and mindsets remind me very much of Simon the sorcerror. He claimed the name of Jesus, wanted the holy spirit and everything, even offered to buy it, all so he could have God bless his lifestyle, rather than living sacrificially and preaching the True gospel, he wanted to live his comprimised life with a christian banner and wanted God to bless it. We cant mix the world with Jesus, it doesnt work. To make Jesus trendy in a world that He Himself said hated him, is an oxymoron and you need to revaluate your motives and humble yourself before the Lord and really search the scriptures and see just what spirit you are operating under. As far as I see, I dont see the Holy Spirit here, I see a worldy spirit that is greatly compromised. Examine yourself.

    • TabMiller

      I won’t speak for Shane, the author, but I will say this. I do agree that we do not build the Kingdom. But, we do work for the Kingdom. We must avoid the triumphalism that we build the Kingdom on our own, as if we are going to present it to Jesus when He gets back from vacation, but the Kingdom has broken in through Jesus, not least upon our hearts. Our efforts on earth to spread the gospel means that we are the tools in the builder’s hands. We are not the end, but the means, fueled only by God’s grace. What we do here and now is not futile, but has everlasting value when we do so under the Spirit.

    • http://www.facebook.com/shane.dehaven Shane DeHaven

      Spiritual Formation cannot be experienced without the physcial life, this is death. We experience profound spiritual truth here on earth within the context of this life. While there is a reward of a transformed body upon being in the presence of the Savior we currently have one life to live with the current life we have. Here at The Echo Life we think that we have a responsibility to use the resources that we have to participate in Kingdom of God, the very same Kingdom that Jesus taught is here but not yet fully established. We are the tools in the hands of the maker to carry the message of peace, love, and salvation offered to everyone in grace.
      We dare not step outside of the calling that has been placed on each of our lives. All Christ followers have those things that we use as a vehicle to carry the gospel. The Echo Life staff has chosen the vehicle of wholeness to do so. It is clear that through out the Biblical narrative that serving God requires the whole person. This is was made most evident in the life Jesus Christ; who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died and was buried; he descended into hell; on the third day he rose again from the dead; he ascended into heaven,and is seated at the right hand of God the Father almighty. These are all actions that our Lord both experienced and endured in the flesh. We absolutely believe in Jesus and that his presence on this earth changed history forever. We are simply answering the call to join Him with the gifts and talents He has given us.
      I agree with you that the context of the temple care taker leads the interpreter to understand that they were dealing with sexual sin, but the principle still fits our current context. Am I to believe that the only physical sin that should be avoided is promiscuity with the walls of the temple? That would be obserd. You accept that drug use, certain types of music, and participation in the occult fits within the context you claim how can you accept somethings and not the others? We do not elevate health and excersise to the level of worship. We believe that there are priniciples that can be learned and used to take our relationship with God to new levels. Principles such as discpline, mercy, loyalty, and authentic community that can break down walls and engage those who may not believe. These principles are the very same principles that used daily by those who claim to follow the teachings of Jesus to avoid the sins that you elevated above the rest (i.e. sexual, drug abuse, music…) and other sins alike.
      Our actions here and now will continue to Echo throughout eternity.

    • Richard

      I could not agree with you more that we do not set up the
      Kingdom as if we were the Kings and Queens of something that does not belong to
      us. If I not mistaken, Jesus began his ministry by proclaiming the in-breaking
      of the Kingdom (i.e. Mark 1:15) and inviting those who would follow him to
      become active participants by living “on Earth as it is in heaven.” We do not
      control the building of the Kingdom. Nor do we wait passively on the sidelines
      for Jesus to return. If this was the case we would still wait in upper rooms
      with no care for creation or justice or the poor etc. These are false
      dichotomies that have divided our faith for too long. We are stewards of
      everything – grace, creation, food, ourselves, our time, our gifts –
      everything.

      One of the most beautiful metaphors throughout Scripture is
      the indwelling presence of the divine. When they were in the wilderness, moving
      about along the journey God said build me a tent so I might tent with you who
      are a tent people. When they settled and were stationary he said build me a
      house because he had built them a house. When God came and tabernacled (tented)
      with us, he opened the door for us to become tents ourselves. Throughout this
      metaphor, God was always transforming and teaching God’s people about how to
      care for the dwelling place. Why would the present body/tent/temple/tabernacle be
      any different? The reality of the Spirit making its dwelling place in me
      transforms all of me. If the Gospel is not good news for our whole being now,
      it’s not good news at all. My goal is a continual examination of self in the
      ever brightening light of the Holy Spirit until the day when all things are
      made new and we will no longer see through a mirror dimly.

      In Christ,

      Richard

  • Nun

    To all the below comments, I will repeat what I said, I do not think you guys are purposly trying to portray your blog in this way, but I cannot help but see what I read. I sent your blog to two discernment ministries for a second opinion, and same thing, they too see the high level of over emphasis on health and fitness, but none on salvation or glorification of the Cross of Christ. As believers, our sole purpose is to preach the gospel, Paul said he considered everything a loss compared to the surpassing knowledge of Christ. AGAIN, I never knocked health, nor do I embrace gluttony, but the fact remains that these are not the center piece of the gospel, and even “good” things like health can become an idol. Thats all, I officially digress from this blog. God bless.

    • EchoStaff

      A note to our readers from the creators of The Echo Life: We welcome and encourage criticism (and encouragement) from our readership. When being criticized, we are given the chance to reflect upon our motives and character, and we are given opportunity to grow. The series of critiques from “Nun” have given the three of us great encouragement to express the calling that our Lord, Jesus Christ, has put upon our hearts for The Echo Life. Now, more than ever, we are encouraged to share our hearts on the reasons we do what we do.

      In light of these reflections, we do have a few things we would like to share.

      We feel the above comment reflects a great misunderstanding in the nature of The Echo Life.

      We would like to be clear: Nothing is more important than our relationship with Christ, the relationship made possible by His cruciform love displayed on the cross and the atoning sacrifice for our sins made possible in this very historical event. In comparison, all other things fade in His glorious light, this certainly includes our passion for The Echo Life.

      With that in mind, we offer the following point of clarity. The Echo Life stands as a ministry mainly for the Church, those who have already been saved by grace through faith and wish to continue to grow by God’s sanctifying grace. While we do promote the stewardship of the body, we do not promote it as a means of salvation. First things being first, all the fitness exercises in the world matter nothing without grace and holy-love. Only after we are saved can we join with Him in His meaningful good works, the works we choose to be our focus of our conversation here at The Echo Life, works that include stewardship of our bodies, our earth, and our neighbor for the sake of the Kingdom people of God.

      Let us state this without qualification, lest we be misunderstood. All three of us wish to be called to task if we ever lose sight of this, and we can only pray that God would, in His mercy, redirect our motives and character. Let us also say in all sincerity: May our bodies suffer great and terrible things before we lose Christ. We put nothing before Him. He is everything.

      Having made this abundantly clear, we will say continue: Because we respect God’s good work in creation, we will do our best to be good stewards of all things He gives us and to share our passion as such. We do not take for granted the privileges God has given us.

      To further clarify our motives, let it be known that The Echo Life exists as a very small portion of our greater ministry work. The three of us are sacrificing our “free time” to this blog. We are not being paid for this, and it is certainly not our main ministry. It is a small part of a greater whole. We do take seriously our call to preach the message of Christ, and EVERYTHING that He taught us. However, The Echo Life is not our only, or even our main avenue for doing so. Our primary ministries are our means of evangelism.

      If The Echo Life was our main ministry, we might understand the accusation that we are falling short of our call, but that is not the nature of this blog, which is our sharing of a very specific conversation the three of us have been engaged in for some time. In time, it might become more, but, as is, we are not using this as an evangelical tool to win souls to Christ, not to say that we do not believe Christ is reflected here and could be used to bring some to Him. We do not believe God has created this project for such a task (as of yet). Instead, this is our way of feeding and taking care of our own, the Christian community, the Church, by sharing with the Church what we prayerfully understand as our full potential.

      In other words, while this blog emphasizes health and fitness, it is not our purpose to suggest that this is the main focus of the Bible. Instead, this, in our opinion, is a conversation that is long overdue. it is a conversation the Church has to have, and we are not ashamed to allow the conversation to be public. It is one conversation of many, and is not meant to be a full on ministry (as of yet). This is certainly a public blog and we know that persons that are not in the Christian community will see the conversation, but that does not negate the fact that we can and should have the discussions with our brothers and sisters that God has laid upon our hearts. In fact, we should live our faith publicly.

      As a service to the Body of Christ, we talk about the Christian journey, not just the beginning of the journey and the crucial, crisis moments of salvation, but the daily walk we experience with Christ as we move in His sanctifying grace. So, in case we have been negligent in explaining this reality, we offer the above.

      To summarize, this is a specific conversation assuming a basis in foundational Christianity. This is a ministry of uplifting the church and not so much about evangelism. However, we do believe it benefits evangelism as it promotes Christians to be better disciples who make disciples. We, the creators of this blog, do not deny the importance of evangelism and we are highly engaged elsewhere. This blog does not, therefore, encompass our ministry efforts. It is a small part that is well within our calling as disciples.

      The foci of The Echo Life are very important, and we will not apologize for speaking on such matters, but that is not to suggest that we do not think there are other topics that are just as important, or even more important, than what we speak of here.

      To God be the glory.

      Regards,

      Echo Staff