MOVE OR DIE
Recently, I was watching an episode from the Science Nature Page that showed the connection between physical activity and brain health.
The video gave a summary of a medical study that found that people who are inactive, especially if they are unable to do load-bearing exercise, including bed-ridden people and even astronauts on long trips into space, not only lost muscle mass, but their body chemistry was altered at the cellular level and even their nervous system was adversely impacted. It found that limiting physical activity, even if all other activity was normal, decreased the number of neuro stem cells by 70%.
Further, the study showed that using our legs, particularly in weight-bearing exercise, sends signals to the brain that are vital for the production of healthy neural cells, which are essential for the brain and nervous system.
What does this mean to our Christian walk? Of course it reminds us that God didn’t just throw together some dirt to create us. It also supports what we read in Psalms 139:14 [KJV] I will praise thee; for I am fearfully [and] wonderfully made: marvellous [are] thy works; and [that] my soul knoweth right well. (Emphasis mine.)
But that is not my focus today. What I wanted to point out is the spiritual lesson for us believers today: that activity is essential to our spiritual health – especially to our minds and hearts. Or as James put it: But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. [James 1:22 ESV]
Further, I believe that this is not just true from a personal standpoint (each individual believer), but also from an organizational standpoint (whether you meet in your home with 5 other believers or in a corporate church of 100).
Compassion is engaged, love is engaged, mercy is engaged when we help others. Further, I believe our understanding of scripture is enhanced when we put it to use by serving others. I believe this is true when that activity is heartfelt, sympathetic prayer for others, making cards for others, visiting the sick, taking up a donation for the poor, or any other active living of the commandment found in John 15:12 [ESV], where Jesus tells us: "This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.
My message today is that if you want to grow in grace and knowledge of the truth, serving others is essential to that. Yes, I am actually proposing that all the study of scripture, the discovering the root of Greek and Hebrew words, or connecting prophecies from the Old Testament to their fulfillment in Jesus’ life and ministry, or understanding the harmony of the Gospels, or memorizing key scriptures will not do as much for your spiritual health as actually doing something to serve another person.
Jesus’ own example is one of activity-based love. He certainly taught the people Bible truths, expanding our understanding of God’s law of love. He also feed them (Matthew 14, 15; Mark 6, Luke 9, John 6). He healed them (Matthew 14:14; Luke 6:17, 8:36, 13:14). He blessed their children (Mark 10:14-16). Jesus set an example of being a doer of the word, not just a hearer.
Of course, you do not need a corporation or even a group of friends in order to serve others. This is something each of us can do on our own. Further, I believe that the more our “doing” requires of us – the more it incorporates some form of “bearing the load” of others – the more our spiritual health will be improved by it. You know, “no pain, no gain” but from a spiritual standpoint.
It is also my belief that the spiritual health of your home Bible study group, independent church or large church corporation is also directly tied to how much serving you do together. When we don’t make frequent efforts, as a group, at serving the poor and needy, not just in the church, but also in the community or around the world, we become more focused on our own struggles, wants and needs. We become more insular and that is not healthy environment for spiritual growth. In fact, I believe this lack of service activity will contribute to the spiritual atrophy – possibly even death – of any person or group.
So, sisters, if you are feeling that the interpretation of a key scripture escapes you, or if you feel the scriptures taking on a “ho-hum” place in your mind or heart, or if the sermons/studies in your group seem uninspired, then I suggest the remedy is to get moving. Have a food drive and go to the trouble of taking it to the shelter. Make care kits for the homeless, then actually take the kits around the city and hand them out. Collect blankets for a nursing home and then hand them out to the residents yourself. Mow a widow’s yard. Rock sick babies at a children’s hospital or read stories to the children with cancer.
I believe with all my heart that when we take the time and make the effort to serve others the Holy Spirit will be activated and our human spirits will be inspired, our Bible study will be enhanced and we will grow – both as individuals and I our church groups.
But, don’t take my word for it. Do your own experiment – exercise your spiritual muscles, bear the load of another person – and then contact me with the results. Even if I’m wrong, you will still have done what Jesus called us to do [See Matthew 25:31-46]
Here is the video, in case you want to check it out:
I’d love to hear your comments and questions. You can write me at Nancy@DynamicChristianMinistries.org.