If Readers’ Digest is correct and “laughter is the best medicine,” then my kids and their friends have me so well-dosed that I should live to be two hundred years old. One of my kids’ good friends said something two years ago on Halloween that has come to my mind and brought a chuckle with it whenever I have thought about his comments since. This young man had been trick-or-treating with the neighborhood kids, but was very deliberate in going to every other house. When his mother asked him, “Cameron, why aren’t you going to all of the houses?” His response was, “Mom, I’m trying to be healthy.”
You laughed, didn’t you!
That is a true story, and in the context of costumes, caramel apples, and snickers bars it is precious. But a parallel kind of thinking that is encountered all too often in pastoral ministry is no laughing matter. Spiritually, you cannot pursue health by merely deciding to sin less. Please read that sentence again.
There is no place I can think of in all of scripture where God says to us, “If only you would not steal or lie as often; if only you would be less unfaithful to your spouses; if only you would worship false God’s only half as much…” God neither asks for nor does he accept half measures. Read Hosea 7:8 – “half-baked” obedience is unacceptable to God. Rather, he says, “Be holy, because I, the LORD your God am holy.” Leviticus 11:44-45; 19:2. I cannot decide to be half holy. I cannot decide that I will keep five commandments or that I will keep ten commandments half of the time. God calls me to serve him with a whole heart, all of the time.
Of course I fail. Daily. But Christ succeeded! And by trusting him to stand for me, in my place, before a holy God, his death is accepted for mine and his perfect life is credited to me. The earthly life of a Christian is a day to day, humble and earnest, moment by moment attempt to live out the obedience to God that Jesus Christ performed for those who believe in him.
Is it wrong to eat chocolate on October 31? Of course not! As Christians we should take care of our physical bodies, but “junk food” in moderation is no sin. But spiritually speaking, there is no such thing as “in moderation” when it comes to “junk” thoughts, feelings, or actions. “We must rid ourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from our lips.” Colossians 3:8. “All” is a big word. Let’s pursue spiritual health by refusing to allow such things even the smallest place in our lives as we seek to love the LORD our God with all of our heart, soul, mind, and strength; and our neighbor as ourselves.