How likely are you to take medical advice from a doctor whose open lifestyle betrays the very advice he or she is giving you? Would you really be prone to accept smoking cessation counsel from a physician who smokes two packs of cigarettes per day? Many people would not. While the doctor is not expected to be “perfect” or even the ultimate role model for healthy behavior, people naturally look toward healthcare professionals to practice what they preach, if only in public.
Health personnel, especially physicians, have vast amounts of knowledge and information at their disposal, and the expectation is that “those who know better are expected to do better.” If this is true for the practitioners in the medical field, is it not also true for the “doers of the Word”? Our special fishing work is to help people be prepared to meet our Maker. Is this just a “spiritual” preparation, or is there more?
Studies show that individuals afflicted with chronic disease are more prone to emotional distress and clinical depression. Poor physical health and poor health habits are associated with diminished mental health, namely sub- optimal function in thinking, behavior, feelings, responses to stress, or interacting with others. Persons in good health and high fitness have a better mood, greater resilience, and less anxiety than those who are not fit or not in good general health. But how do we do it?
We need to do what the apostles did—learn from Jesus. He loved people! He loved them enough to tell them the truth in as winsome a way as possible. He went where His Father sent Him, where the people were, and He mingled with them. Christ worked with the crowds tirelessly, bringing gems of truth to them in a way they could understand and relate to. Jesus’ concern about people’s spiritual condition was para- mount. He was concerned about their hearts and minds. But Jesus was also concerned about their bodies. He went about healing people of all manner of illnesses. So, too, we should care about the entire person: spirit, mind, and body, beginning with ourselves.
Paul prays: “May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. The one who calls you is faithful, and he will do it” (1 Thess. 5:23, 24, NIV). This text implies at least the following: God is willing to set us entirely apart for His purpose; the complete and entire person (body, mind [psyche], and spirit) is to be kept blameless at Jesus’ coming; and that it is God, the One who calls us, who will do this. So, what are we required to do to satisfy Paul’s prayer? Surrender and submit to God’s plan for our entire being: spirit, mind, and body.
God is amazing! He took lowly fishermen from Galilee, called them out to be with Him, discipled them, and developed them into apostles—fishers of men and the founding members of His new church. He did His work for them, in them, and through them then; He is doing the same work for us, in us, and through us today. One or more of His modern-day fishers collaborated with the Holy Spirit and fished each of us out of the world. God’s Word to us today is, “ ‘Come, follow me,’ . . . ‘and I will send you out to fish for people’ ” (Mark 1:17). This applies to pastor-disciples, elder-disciples, deacon-disciples, homemaker-disciples, and plumber- disciples. All of us must be about the art and science of fishing for men and women for God’s kingdom.
Biblical anthropology is clear: the living organism is not an aggregate assembly of body, mind, and spirit but, rather, an integral entity of inter- connected, inseparable dimensions. Misuse of the body shortens our useful time for and our usefulness in God’s service. All dimensions of us need care and attention; all are important in their own right. Spiritual development is essential, but we must not neglect our minds and bodies. We should love God and His children enough to be as healthy as we can be. We should strive for the best physical condition possible because our “physical” connects to everything else.
Let us cooperate with the One who calls us to faithfully keep blameless our spirit, soul, and body unto His appearing, and, by God’s grace, our physical health, mental soundness, and spiritual vitality will afford us the influence that we need as twenty-first-century fishers for people.