"Making Health the Center of Your Life" and Other Bad Ideas

October 6, 2012

Exodus 20:30

"Thou shalt have no other Gods before me."

Reflection by Lillian Daniel

A health club proudly displays its motto: "Making Health the Center of Your Life."

At first glance, it's a logical claim. After all, they are in the business of keeping people fit and healthy. If you put health at the center of your life, you may put the health club there too. They will appreciate your membership dues.

But "Making Health the Center of Your Life" is actually a terrible motto for living. Because you can go to the gym every day, eat every leafy green and whole grain, focus your entire being on being healthy and still get sick.

While we can support our own good health, there is absolutely nothing we can do to guarantee it. At some point, every single person's health will deteriorate, right before death, if not much earlier.

People with healthy habits still become ill. And then, if you have "put health at the center of your life," where are you when your health lets you down? You have no center anymore.

It's just another version of the message that we hear everywhere: "Put yourself at the center of your life." When you like yourself and when life is good, it seems to work. But nobody's life is perfect enough to be the center of anything for long. We need a better center.

This season at my church, we are in the middle of a Ten Commandments sermon series. The first four are about making God the center. The next six are about how to treat other people. It's as if God wanted ten different ways to say: "It's not all about you."

Prayer

Help me to stick to the good habits that support my own health and the health of others, but don't let me make an idol of it. God, be my center, in sickness and in health. Amen.

About the Author
Lillian Daniel is the senior minister of First Congregational Church, Glen Ellyn Illinois and serves on the board of Interfaith Worker Justice..

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