Are We Glorifying God With Our Bodies?
By Kevin Lum
Pastor of Student Ministries, Glenwood Baptist Church in Knoxville, TN
Former Rig Electrician with Ensco International
"So whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” – 1 Corinthians 10:31
I have toyed with writing this blog post/devotional for some time now because I was struggling with how to write it in a way that could not be construed as offensive. Recently, I gave up on this idea after coming to the realization that no matter what, when you open the Bible and read it aloud…someone is bound to be offended. The Holy Spirit working through the reading and exposition of the word of God is not necessarily offensive so much as it is convicting; therefore, I will write candidly with the hopes that these words will glorify God.
I spent nearly seven years completely enmeshed in the offshore oil drilling industry. I broke out as a roustabout in 2007 with Pride Offshore, working primarily in the Gulf. When I left the industry, I had been blessed by God to have been advanced through my career to the position of rig electrician. After coming over to the international side of Pride in 2009, I traveled extensively, working in Angola, Norway, Singapore, Brazil and South Korea, among other countries.
I share this to let my possible oilfield readers understand that I have a pastor’s mind with roughneck hands. (Similar to the Frank Foster lyrics…!) I know well and understand the jobs and sacrifices that are experienced by workers in the industry. Having said all of that…I know also that there are numerous health issues in the industry as well.
Let’s be honest…as oilfield hands, we are not known for our moderation. On the rigs, we work a 91 hour week at minimum and, when we are off tour, are normally not in any mood to be mindful of our health. When on the rig, there is not much variety and the food that is available is not known for its’ healthy, organic properties (especially if you work in the Gulf of Mexico). Most of us are too exhausted to even think about gym time after working a 12 hour tour. Add to the mix the fact that numerous oilfield hands use both tobacco and alcohol and you have a very potent mix for making an unhealthy body. Though we make the effort, it seems that time slips through our fingers and we find ourselves continuing to adopt unhealthy habits such as remaining sedentary, eating an unbalanced diet or consuming too much alcohol.
Christian brothers and sisters, we were called to more than this! The apostle Paul wrote the majority of the New Testament and wrote two letters specifically to the church at Corinth. These letters encouraged the congregation as well as addressed in-house issues that were unhealthy for the unity of a local body of Christ. In 1 Corinthians 10, we see Paul dealing with idolatry. He warns the church at Corinth about the dangers of worshipping pagan idols and warns them of the jealousy of God. The last ten verses of the chapter deal with food that has been offered as a sacrifice to idols.
In our day and time the worship of statue type idols is not something that the modern church faces. That being said, however, we must understand that anything that we allow to be more important than our relationship with Christ is an idol…this includes our bodies and how unhealthy we treat ourselves.
In 2010, I was at my heaviest…252 pounds. I was making no attempt whatsoever to stop smoking, drinking or eating unhealthy nor was I getting regular exercise…physically or spiritually. God called to me in a way that I couldn’t resist, and he began to change me from the inside out. I started to read His word more often, I began trying to lead my family to Him and lastly, I began to take better care of my body. I realized that in Matthew 28:19-20, Christ gave a threefold mandate for all Christians: make disciples in the whole world, baptize those disciples and then teach those disciples the words of Christ. I couldn’t shake the following thought: what if I were called to perform a task for Him and I was unable to due to being so out of shape. Since then, I quit smoking and drinking (cold turkey,) lost a total of 62 pounds and make the attempt (not as often as I should) to eat correctly.
I don’t want to offend anyone…trust me, I understand how difficult that it is to stay healthy these days. More than not wanting to offend my brothers and sisters, I don’t want to offend God. So as I look at 1 Corinthians chapter 10, I understand completely the context of the passage: Paul was specifically advising the church at Corinth to honor God with their bodies (referring to their physical body as well as the local congregation/body of Christ) by refraining from sexual immorality as well as not serving as a stumbling block to others. (verse 32)
Here’s where it gets tricky: verse 23 says "all things are lawful, but not all things are helpful.” (English Standard Version) That means everything we do. I might have the spiritual freedom in Christ to eat from McDonalds every day, but is that helpful? Eventually, our bad habits will catch up with us and we may face serious health issues. These issues may keep us from physically being able carry out God’s plan for our lives. I believe that it is up to us as God’s children to take stock of where we are (both spiritually and physically) and make healthy changes to our lives so that we are glorifying Him in everything that we do.