Summary: This message is the first in a series of four on “Illness Through the Eyes of Faith.”
ILLNESS AND WELLNESS
INTRO: In the sitting area of a hospital lobby, a plaque hangs on the wall. It is the hospital statement of purpose. One of the stated purposes is to offer a “positive Christian interpretation of disease, disability, and death.”
A man who was recovering from a serious illness called the plaque to the attention of his pastor. He said, “I am a bit puzzled by the phrase, ‘a positive Christian interpretation of disease.’ What does it mean to interpret illness in such a way?”
What does it mean to interpret illness through the eyes of faith? Since so many of our church members face illness, this is a relevant question.
This message is the first in a series of four on “Illness Through the Eyes of Faith.”
I. THE CHRISTIAN AND ILLNESS.
Why preach on the subject of illness. The answer is simple. Because Christians get sick. Believers are not immune from disease and illness. Christians do not receive a go-directly-to-heaven-pass-all-suffering card. Disease is democratic. It comes to all people regardless of their faith commitment. Christians, like everyone else, are vulnerable to illness.
ILLUS: For several years the popular Christian author and speaker Joyce Landorf has endured an overwhelming and paralyzing kind of pain. While the pain from her medical problem is difficult, Landorf mentions another source of pain more troubled than any other: judgment from fellow Christians.
Believers who think that dedicated Christians should never get sick sometimes tell her that she is being punished for some sin or that she doesn’t have enough faith. Landorf says that this kind of criticism often hurts worse than the physical pain itself.
Where did we get this idea that Christians should not get sick? It is certainly not true to the Bible. Consider Paul for example. In his letters he mentioned Timothy’s stomach problems and frequent aliments.
Paul once said that he left “ill at Miletus.” His Christian friend and co-worker Epaphroditus was so sick once that he almost died. And Paul himself had a serious physical illness. The apostle Paul was one of the greatest men of faith Christianity ever produced, yet he spoke of illness as a natural part of life and suffered physical illness himself.
Good, faithful Christians get sick. The Bible and experience have taught us that. The question is, how do we see illness through the eyes of faith? Where is God to be found in the experience of physical infirmity?
Before we come to that, however, an important issue needs to be addressed. The place to begin a Christian interpretation of illness is to discuss the subject of wellness.
II. THE CHRISTIAN AND WELLNESS
In our Scripture today, we read that our bodies are the temple of God. As a matter of stewardship, Christians should attempt to maintain good health. While we will occasionally become ill, wellness should be our goal. We need to remember that faith is not just spiritual. God is very concerned about our physical bodies. His will is that we take good care of them.
God has given us marvelous bodies. Unfortunately, we don’t always take good care of them. Someone once said you know your body is in trouble if you cannot see whether your shoes are tied when you are standing up.
You know your body is in trouble when you feel like the morning after and you did not go anywhere the night before.
You know your body is in trouble when your knees buckle and your belt won’t.
You know your body is in trouble when you see your friends jogging and you hope they twist an ankle.
You know your body is in trouble when you breathe harder after walking up a set of stairs than you do when you hold your sweetheart’s hand!
The body is the temple of God. That is a remarkable thing. And it means that we have the responsibility of being good caretakers of God’s temple.
ILLUS: Wayne Oates has appropriately said: “You can do nothing more spiritual than to maintain your own physical health. Your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit. You serve God well if you take care of your body as a means of worshiping God.”
Much is involved in good stewardship of our bodies. Our diet is a good example. A little boy was eating spinach. He said the reason he was eating is was so he could get big enough and strong enough to refuse spinach when he was older!.A better motivation for proper diet is so we can be healthy and better serve our Lord.
To obey the biblical command to honor God in our bodies means we will not engage in activities which are destructive to our bodies. Drugs, overeating, alcohol, and tobacco are examples.