Do you like being “different”? In many cases it is uncomfortable to be viewed as such, because we usually like to sort of “blend in” with the rest of society. We don’t like to be seen as “odd”, or different from most.
Those of us who are children of God are “sanctified”, or set apart, not by anything we have done, but by Christ’s finished work on the cross. I Peter I:16 says, “Be ye holy, even as I am holy.” We become holy by the grace of God, which is the highest form of holiness. As Joseph Prince says, “only his grace could join a holy God and unholy man.”
We are different from “the world”. According to I John 3:1, “How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him.” I John 3:13 says, “Do not be surprised, my brothers, if the world hates you.”
An old hymn by Albert Brumley says, “This world is not my home, I’m just a passing through, my treasures are laid up somewhere beyond the blue.” It’s so true for the Christian. We are in the world, but not of the world.
What is it that makes “the world” so bad? “We know that we are children of God, and that the world is under the control of the evil one.” [Satan] (I John 5:19) The world goes its own way without regard to God. They behave like those the Bible says “did that which was right in their own eyes”, and that always leads to destruction for individuals or for nations.
In the movie “Divergent”, Beatrice Prior is tested to see into which predetermined “faction” her virtues would place her. We find her test results to be “inconclusive”, and she is subsequently targeted for her nonconformity. The god of this world targets us with his “fiery darts”, but we are given the gift of faith to keep them from hitting us.
We have seen over the past two years that President Donald Trump is no more welcome in Washington, D.C. than Jesus was in Jerusalem. He is different, he is not a politician, he is not a member of the “establishment” as the previous five presidents have been. He is not paid off by wealthy elite bankers and corporate magnates. We are on the cusp of seeing justice served on all of those who took part in the attempted coup against him.
How does our relationship to “the world” affect our health? In very important ways. We do have a certain amount of natural healthiness, as we have been designed with a functioning immune system that helps ward off pathologic bacteria, viruses, and fungi. If we are infected with a virus, for instance, our body produces antibodies to fight it and inflammation to help (most fever is beneficial, and you should let your child have it unless it’s around 103 or more).
Are we at fault for coming down with diseases? Well, it depends. If you smoke 3 packs of cigarettes per day for decades and get lung cancer, it is likely your fault. If you take a plane trip to Nigeria and come down with ebola virus it’s probably not your fault. If you are aware that Roundup is a carcinogen, and you handle it on windy days and later get cancer, you may be partly at fault. Most cancers just “show up” for no apparent reason. There are, of course, genetic factors that play a role.
Other more chronic illnesses such as hypertension, diabetes, heart disease, and arthritis are harder to explain. Genetics play a strong role. We may be partially at fault by consuming way too much sugar and processed foods. So watching our diets and getting enough exercise and sleep can do wonders to help keep us healthy. An apple a day…?
Much of our health relates to our choices. If we choose to eat lots of sweet foods, our insulin level tends to be higher for longer than is healthy, and since insulin is the “fat storage hormone”, we may end up overweight with a greater propensity to have chronic disease. The same goes for eating too much processed food (found in boxes and cans), as it along with sugar, produces inflammation, the main cause of most diseases. Eating GMO foods carries additional risks, such as the production of leaky gut and harmful auto-antibodies that attack our own organs.
Do Christians have supernatural support for good health? Yes! We have the armor of God to protect us from battles which are primarily spiritual – just consider Washington, D.C.! According to Ephesians 6:13 we need to take unto ourselves the “whole armor of God, that we may be able to stand in the evil day.” We need the following: truth, righteousness (it is his righteousness, for we have none of our own), the gospel of peace, the shield of faith, the helmet of salvation (that’s needed first), and the sword of the spirit. And we need to be praying and watching on behalf of our brothers an sisters.
So, being properly equipped will prevent many illnesses. The first two verses of Ephesians 6 tell children how to extend the years of their lives – by obeying their parents! (the other promise is that things will “go well” with them)
James 5:14,15 says, “Is any sick among you? Let him call for the elders of the church; and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up”. I attend one church where this is practiced just that way.
God wants us to be healthy and live long lives. We who are “born again” have no trouble believing that Jesus took our place on the cross and took our sins and judged them 2,000 years ago so that we can live today without any condemnation. We need to also believe that he took our diseases also, as he voluntarily went to the whipping post and had his back shredded by being flogged over and over again. We find in Isaiah 53:4 “Surely he hath borne our griefs [choliy – diseases, sicknesses] and carried our sorrows [makob – afflictions]…”
The next verse says, “But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised [daka – beaten to pieces, crushed, destroyed] for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes [chabburah – black and blue marks, bruises, hurts, wounds] we are healed. ” The whipping given by the Romans was to bring prisoners close to the point of death by the 39 or more lashes of the flagrum.
I Peter 2:24 adds, “He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; by his wounds you have been healed.” This healing is a gift, which means that for it to be effective, it must be received. And the scriptures tell us that it is imperative for us to properly regard Jesus’ broken body when we eat the bread at communion or else we open ourselves up to diseases and an early death. Yes, read it for yourself in I Corinthians 11:29,30. Eating and drinking “unworthily” means “not discerning the Lord’s body“. That is identified as the reason why so many Christians are sick and die early.
So, take part in communion if you are a believer, and be sure to meditate on and be thankful for Jesus having given you healing by going to that whipping post and the cross as you eat the bread. I believe that we will see illnesses affect us less and less often, and any symptoms we may have now will begin to dissipate. Have faith – it is a choice.