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Posted: September 11, 2009 12:30 a.m.

Parson to Person: Spiritual health reform

Health care seems to be the center of discussion these days. Mind if I put in my two cents?

It is kind of baffling to me that there is suddenly so much on an interest in health care these days. Don’t get me wrong. I am not against being healthy or trying to obtain the best health care for ourselves or our loved ones that is available, and certainly there are many in our midst who do not have that privilege. It is neither my purpose nor the scope of this particular column to delve into the pros and cons of the conflicting views regarding this issue; better minds than mine are debating it.

However, the issue does raise a question for me which does fit into the scope of a religious column. Why is it that we give so much attention to the physical side of our lives and so little to the spiritual side? If the Bible is true (and you know that I’ve staked my life on the belief that it is), then we are going to be "dead" a lot longer than we are alive. That is, the Bible speaks of an eternal existence beyond the grave. I read recently where one minister called such a view antiquated and unworthy of any thinking man. I wonder what he does with Jesus’ comment, "Don’t be worried! Have faith in God and have faith in me. There are many rooms in my Father’s house. I wouldn’t tell you this, unless it was true. I am going there to prepare a place for each of you. After I have done this, I will come back and take you with me. Then we will be together. You know the way to where I am going,"" (John 14:1-4, CEV).

Three possibilities here. One possibility is as some claim that Jesus was just accommodating himself to his audience. That he didn’t really believe this but they did. The problem with that view is that it doesn’t fit with anything we know about Jesus and how could Jesus be a good moral teacher if he is purposefully misleading people on this important subject?

Second possibility is that Jesus really said no such thing and his followers simply attributed the statement to him. The problem here is we have solid evidence that all of the Gospel books were written in a time when there were still plenty of people around who knew Jesus and who could easily refute an errant claim. Despite the errant claims of some today these books are not written in the fourth century; no, they were compiled in the fourth but written in the first. Such a statement, if not made by Jesus, would have been quickly redacted by those who followed him.

Third possibility, Jesus did say it and it is true. That is where I stand on the issue.

Now, if it is true that there is an existence beyond the grave that will last more than some 90 or stretching it perhaps 100 odd years, should our interest and emphasis on our spiritual health be just as vital as our interest in our physical health? Why is it that we spend billions on the physical side of life yet give so little attention to the spiritual side of life? The new atheists would argue that the reason we pay attention to the physical is because that is all there is. We live, we die, we’re worm-food, any enlightened man knows that. Not much comfort there, and still we are forced back to Jesus’ assurance that there is something beyond the grave. You may deny his claim but you can’t ignore it. You have to decide.

As a Christian, it is my belief that there is life after death and we are going to spend it in one of two places: in heaven with God or in hell separated from God. The Bible teaches in both places, and if you are going to deny one, you logically must also deny the other.

Many cringe at the thought of a literal hell, and rightly so. Some complain that they could not serve a God who would condemn anyone to such a place. C.S. Lewis has the best response to that accusation, "In the long run the answer to all those who object to the doctrine of hell is itself a question: ‘What are you asking God to do?’ To wipe out their past sins and, at all costs, to give them a fresh start, smoothing every difficulty and offering every miraculous help? But He has done so, on Calvary. To forgive them? They will not be forgiven. To leave them alone? Alas, I am afraid that is what He does," (C.S. Lewis, The Problem of Pain, pp. 127-128).

Think about health-care and your physical well being, but don’t neglect the more weighty matter of your spiritual well-being.

Dr. John Pearrell is pastor of Gateway Community Church in Covington. He can be heard Thursdays on the radio on WMVV 90.7 (FM) at 8:30 p.m.

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