As I get older, I am trying to eat better and live a more healthy life. This means I can no longer consume Mountain Dew like it was oxygen or eat pizza three times a day. I’ve been cutting my portions and looking to eat more fruits and vegetables, less processed foods, and so on. I’ve also been exercising more. I can really notice how my body responds to junk because I feel like junk. I know that if I want to continue to be healthy, I have to fill my body with healthy food, exercise regularly, and get enough sleep.
Growing in our walk with Christ is much the same. We become like what we consume. If we are consuming garbage on the TV, or on our iPod, or on the computer- how are we supposed to mature in our faith in a healthy way? In a world that generally does not embrace Christian values- what does it look like to sift through the noise to create habits that edify our spiritual growth?
Paul writes some principles for the believers at Philippi in Philippians 4:8,
“Whatever is true; whatever is noble; whatever is right; whatever is pure; whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable- if anything is excellent or praiseworthy- think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me- put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.” Philippians 4:8-9
Paul provides a filter for the recipients of his letter (and for you and I) about how to engage the culture (a hostile culture) and still advance in our walk with Christ. We are to THINK about that which is true, noble, right, pure, lovely, and admirable. Then we are to PUT INTO PRACTICE what we have learned, received, heard, or seen in [those who model the Christian walk].
In essence, Paul is writing and encouraging the church to think critically about the culture- to sift or curate the culture they consume in such a way that they experience and encounter God through truth, justice, purity, and beauty. This is not a rejection at the culture at large, but an understanding that because God is Creator- we can see God in culture when we experience truth, justice, purity, and beauty. We are to think critically about what we consume and put in our minds. Think of this as eating right. The old saying goes, you are what you eat. The same is true as we grow in Christ. We cannot watch or listen to something that is impure or false, or oppressive without it having a negative effect on our spirituality/faith.
Paul reminds the church that faith is a matter of practice. This is like exercising to stay healthy. We must exercise our faith. Not only are they to listen and learn- but that are to put it into action. We grow in our relationship with Jesus by practicing what we know and have learned.
How is your spiritual health? Are you practicing healthy Christian living- where you are putting things that are true, noble, right, pure, and lovely into your mind, heart, and spirit? Are you exercising your faith by putting what you’ve learned into practice? Like anyone trying to get in shape knows- healthy living comes from eating right and exercising. Spiritually speaking- we must living a spiritual healthy life in what we consumer and get our exercise by putting our faith into action.