Let me begin by saying these lifestyles are not mutually exclusive. A Christian can adopt holistic practices for the sake of health and not be any less a Christian. In fact, we’re told in 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 that we are bought with a price and our bodies now belong to the Lord; therefore, we ought to take care of our bodies.
Also note, I’m using the term “holistic” here to mean the pursuit of improved health through homeopathic, natural, and organic methods. (Some folks use it more broadly, but that’s how will be defined for this discussion.) There isn’t a problem with organic or natural, in and of themselves. However, there are a few points that bother me about the uber-natural movement within Christianity. Trying not to step on too many toes, I’ll list my grievances below and ask that readers keep an open mind.
Ladies at the farmer’s market, circa 2013. Picture by yours truly.
I chose the buzzwords above because they all seem to describe aspects of the same mindset–one which, for one reason or another, would rather make choices about money/possessions than be ruled by them. I’ve been exploring a variety of “literature” on the topic for the past several months. I’ve read it all: Mr. Money Mustache, Money Saving Mom, Passionate Penny Pincher, The Frugalwoods, Afford Anything, Budget 101, and many lesser known blogs by individuals just living and sharing their frugal, minimalist, non-consuming lives. I’ve joined the Non-consumer Advocate group on Facebook and begun researching the Buy Nothing movement. I’ve tortured my husband (sorry, Honey) with thousands of pictures of tiny homes, fantasizing about the day we have our own uber-minimalist place. And I’ve even switched over to cleaning cloths for most formerly-paper-towel jobs.
What does this have to do with Christianity? I jumped into these resources initially thinking I could be a better steward of the resources God has provided. I wanted to live below our (limited) means because that seemed wise. God says that the root of evil is the love of money. (1 Timothy 6:10) And beside that, it seemed pretty cool what folks like the Frugalwoods and Mr. Money Mustache are doing… retiring in their 30s? Choosing cool experiences and travel above mere stuff? That’s really living! Except, as excited as I got about those ideas, those don’t really have any more Kingdom worth than money. I had a good, long talk with my husband (which is a great way to get all sorts of thoughts straight in my head) about financial priorities. And then I did some praying and some thinking besides.
A convicting read, within The Heavenly Man Brother Yun (with Paul Hattaway) tells the story of his conversion and subsequent ministry in communist China. His story begins at the age of 16, during the 1970s when persecution of the Church in China began to increase greatly. His ability to endure and preach the gospel in spite of beatings and imprisonment is a testament to God’s faithfulness, and the miracles he records will surely strength your faith. His wife, Deling, and a few other fellow-laborers also share their testimony in places.
Brother Yun ends the narrative describing the continuing work of the Back to Jerusalem movement, in which Chinese Christians that have been prepared by persecution are going forth into Middle Eastern and other closed countries to spread the gospel. Because they would not choose an easy life, but a life lived wholly for Christ. I would highly recommend this to anyone looking for their first-world Christianity to be rocked.
Within the pages of For the Joy Set Before Us, Erica Fye provides not only the promised “insights into missionary life,” but chapters full of practicable counsel for the ministry-minded Christian. Although focused on Ms. Fye’s experience in foreign missionary work (topics include re-entry shock, adjusting to life in a new culture, etc.), Scriptural truth saturates her writing and gives it broader application.
Beginning with her own testimony and call to missions, Ms. Fye uses her personal story to illustrate biblical principles of ministry. Her willingness to share private struggles and experiences for God’s glory make Ms. Fye’s writing—though unassuming—powerful. Hardly a page is without a Bible reference, or relevant verse. The chapters address a number of difficulties the missionary faces (e.g. loneliness and burnout), and offer both encouragement and direction. The overarching theme, however, is the faithfulness of God to the believer.
For the Joy Set Before Us is not a collection of heartwarming stories from the “wilds” of Uganda. Its purpose is not to entertain, but rather to equip. It is a challenge to seek God and answer His call wherever you are.
It seems like–in America especially–Satan has largely succeeded in dividing the Church. Not only are Christians broken into factions, sometimes called denominations, but individuals in a single church are often isolated from one another. The Christian community talks about unity. But how many of us develop friendships outside our Bible studies (or cliques, or churches)? How many Baptists would have anything to do with Pentecostals, or Protestants with Catholics? (I am speaking to individual believers, not congregations.)
It is a strange thing when we Christians feel as if Christ’s influence should not extend to any portion of our lives. It is strange that it seems inconvenient to us that we should not only have to refrain from major offenses–murder, adultery, lying, stealing, and the like–but also surrender our daily happenings to His will. For instance, according to God’s desires for my life, I must speak kindly to my husband. I must not be quick to anger when someone nearly kills me on the highway (welcome to Pennsylvania). I must budget my money in a way that evidences Christ as Lord over my life. I must pick up the laundry and wash the dishes with a contented, even cheerful, heart. This is Christian duty–allowing Jesus Christ supremacy over the “little” things.
Because of the importance the internet has gained in our culture, I’ve been reflecting on what exactly Christian duty looks like in the realm of social media. Continue Reading