Summary: A sermon in 2 parts - how to keep the Body of Christ fit and healthy - applying spiritual lessons from our need for diet and exercise.

DIET AND EXERCISE: A Spiritual Perspective – Part I

Daniel 1: 3-16; John 4: 4-14; 7:37-39

1. We have just completed a 4 week study entitled Christian A&P 101 where we reflected on the Apostle Paul’s favorite description of the Church as the Body of Christ. We examined 4 main aspects of our physical anatomy and physiology and made spiritual application to our relationships with one another in the church and with Christ as the Head of the Body.

2. As I meditated on what to share with you over the next two Sundays, the thought that remained uppermost in my mind was to stay with the theme of the Body and simply make an extension to two specific ways in which we can keep the body healthy and fit – namely diet and exercise. So today we will look at diet and next Sunday at exercise. So next Sunday you may all come in your sweats and workout gear!

3. Now in contrast to the New Testament references that draw parallels between our physical bodies and the spiritual Body of Christ, as you may have guessed, there are no similar Scripture passages applying clear and direct spiritual lessons to the topics of diet and exercise.

• The only Scriptural passage that came close was the passage from Daniel where he and his three Jewish friends, Shadrach, Meschach, and Abednego refused to eat the rich delicacies from King Nebuchadnezzar’s kitchen and preferred a healthy diet of vegetables and water.

• So what you are going to get today and next Sunday, are Johann Neethling’s own insights applying the essential ingredients of healthy diet and exercise for our human bodies to what we can and need to do to keep the Body of Christ – the church – fit and healthy.

4. If you’ve heard this story before, my apologies – just enjoy it again: GOD’s DIET PLAN

• And God populated the earth with broccoli and cauliflower and spinach and green and yellow vegetables of all kinds, so Man and Woman would live long and healthy lives.

• And Satan created hamburger restaurants. And hamburger restaurants brought forth the 99-cent double-cheeseburger. And Satan said to Man, "You want fries with that?"

• And Man said, "Super size them." And Man gained pounds.

• And God created the healthful yogurt, that woman might keep her figure that man found so fair.

• And Satan froze the yogurt, and he brought forth chocolate, nuts and brightly colored sprinkle candy to put on the yogurt. And woman gained pounds.

• And God said, "Try my crispy fresh salad."

• And Satan brought forth creamy dressings, bacon bits, and shredded cheese.

• And there was ice cream for dessert. And woman gained pounds.

• And God said, "I have sent you heart healthy vegetables and olive oil with which to cook them."

• And Satan brought forth chicken-fried steak so big it needed its own platter, and Man gained pounds, and his bad cholesterol went through the roof.

• And God brought forth running shoes, and Man resolved to lose those extra pounds.

• And Satan brought forth cable TV with remote control so Man would not have to toil to change channels between ESPN and ESPN2. And Man gained pounds.

• And God said, "You’re running up the score, Devil." And God brought forth the potato, a vegetable naturally low in fat and brimming with nutrition.

• And Satan peeled off the healthful skin and sliced the starchy center into chips and deep-fat fried them. And he created sour cream dip also. And Man clutched his remote control and ate the potato chips swaddled in cholesterol.

• And Satan saw and said, "It is good!" And Man went into cardiac arrest.

• And God sighed and created quadruple bypass surgery. And Satan created HMOs....

5. Now we laugh at that story, but that is only because it is so true and we are embarrassed. More than 60% of the American population is overweight – and I include myself in that category – and our problem is getting worse every year.

• 30% of adults aged 20 and older are considered obese

• The percentage of obese children ages 6-19 has more than trebled since 1980 and now more than 16% or 9 million kids fit into that category.

• And with the increase in obesity for all age groups goes the various ailments including:-

 Hypertension

 Type 2 diabetes

 Coronary heart disease

 Stroke

 Gallbladder disease

 Osteoarthritis

 Sleep apnea and respiratory problems and many more . . .

6. The situation is critical.

• While many of the foods we eat are fast and convenient, they also tend to be high in fat, refined sugars, grains, and calories.

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