I was driven back to my keyboard this morning by the proposition Oswald Chambers offered his readers. Oz, the contemporary term of endearment now used among a group of my male friends, might blush or possibly even be aggravated by our flattery, but his deep and pure writings have had profound impact on many of us in this city. In part, his thoughts add health to our hectic postmodern lifestyles, bringing new found energy to our collective journey with Christ; some of us in Christ for the first time, though churched an entire lifetime!
“Health is the balance between physical life and external nature.” He goes on to describe the war imposed by life on our internal person, both mentally and spiritually. That warfare is mostly felt physically and mentally in the evenings by me. Tired from my day’s journey, it is improbable that I would win it without both rest and exercise.
The last two years, the priority of a physical trainer in my life has been a God-send. This friend challenges me and advances me weekly toward higher goals in my lifting, my repetitions and my diet. I can literally feel the difference in my stress level, clarity of thought and ambition for life with each session…if, I stay balanced in my diet and rest…the hardest part, particularly in the holiday season!
Likewise, each morning as I bound out of bed, I am confronted with the presence and love of God for my life, but also the option of spending time with Him rather than diving into that day.
Chambers advances the thought that “everything outside my physical life is designed to put me to death.” “Fighting power” is the term he uses to describe what I must bring into my inner life each day. That term is equated with morality, a motivation which I believe must be connected to a dream, or a calling; one that will enable me to do battle with the forces of life, that would otherwise do me in! Morality produces staying power and yields virtue.
I am reminded of Romans 5:1-5:
“Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.”
Oz adds, “everything that is not spiritual makes for my undoing,” The battle for the spiritual occurs first in the mind, with thoughts that are fueled from a heart that has cultivated virtue…the word used by Chambers to connote holiness; holiness he defines as “the balance between my disposition and the law of God as expressed in Jesus Christ.”
Health then, is the balance of the physical life in its warfare against that which would bring death, and holiness, the balance between my mental and spiritual disposition toward the Laws of God (herein lie tons of material for the discussion of grace, lest one become legalistic).
My “take away” from Chambers this a.m. is that morality is the motivator for this fight for physical life, and virtue the weapon of warfare for the spiritual? I must believe that I, or the Christ in me can make a difference in this world; one that is worth the living, or I am struck down in battle before my time. Morality is my commitment to that calling and virtue is essence of Christ that empowers me.
It was virtue and morality, that sense of purpose, “voice” and value that moved Paul to say:
“I am torn between the two: I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far; but it is more necessary for you that I remain in the body. Convinced of this, I know that I will remain, and I will continue with all of you for your progress and joy in the faith, so that through my being with you again your boasting in Christ Jesus will abound on account of me.” (Philippians 1:23-26).