Tuesday June 30, 2009
I beat my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize. 1 Corinthians 9:27.
For me, this text conjures up pictures of Muslims marching and flailing their bare backs in a gesture of repentance. Certainly Paul preached repentance, but I doubt that he had this particular physical exercise in mind when writing these words. He was more concerned that the appetites of the body did not control his desires, but quite the opposite, his body was going to serve him and the ministry he was called to. Of course, there is a full range of bodily appetites, but my first reaction is to think of food! After all, the definition of “appetite” is ’appy while you’re eating and tight when you’ve finished.
Ann is determined to ensure I “eat right.” She falls short of blaming my poor food habits for causing my cancer, but never-the-less is rightly aware that food choices and health are linked. So we have a daily debate over the intake of “fruit and vegetables” in my diet—especially as salad is my fear factor. Any suicide thoughts I may have would be prompted by the hope there is no salad in heaven! Surely my diet has to be balanced by some food I really enjoy—it is less the Canada food guide balance and more a balance of obligation and joy. It seems to be a truism that food is either enjoyable or “good for you,” and never the twain shall meet.
All this, of course, is symptomatic of Paul’s desire that his daily life choices do not interfere with ability to fulfill his calling. It reminds me that our food intake is a spiritual matter. As far as it lies within our capacity, we need to make choices that will keep us healthy if we wish to complete God’s calling on our lives. This is especially true as we approach the end of life and the time left may be insufficient to finalise what we feel called to do. Old age certainly gives added meaning to the phrase “redeeming the time”!