How far will you go to get healthy? Maybe the best medicine isn't the kind you get from a doctor or a vitamin store.
Being healthy and living up to one’s full potential is trending these days. The popularity of gym memberships, vitamins and supplements for the mind and body, and food consumption awareness are on the rise. Technology has even taken advantage of the trend, with devices catering to the health-conscious lifestyle. Society’s quest for a better, healthier “you” has even led to an interest in an unlikely area—spirituality. This seemingly awkward relationship between health, wellness and spirituality has been cited from several sources, including some you might not expect.
Recent articles from the medical community suggest that one way to relieve stress is to “make the connection” between spirituality and health. This may come as a surprise, since religion is typically thought of as occupying only a “corner” of people’s lives, but not something that correlates with a healthy physical lifestyle—like exercise for example. But, to hear health professionals recommend a healthy dose of spirituality to go along with diet and exercise is a surprise indeed!
One reason for the endorsement is because spirituality is no longer synonymous with religion (if ever it was). Spirituality has many definitions, and does not always equate to a specific set of beliefs. It is now associated not with any specific belief system, but often simply as one’s “journey to find meaning” in life and connecting with something “bigger than yourself.” This fluid definition is one reason why medical professionals and people who don’t claim to be “religious”—even atheists—are endorsing spirituality. This raises the question: Does just any “flavor” of spirituality benefit health, and should this be the ultimate goal of spiritual pursuits and belief?
The world has many varieties of spirituality to offer, and you could even create your own to suit your needs, as people are suggesting. “Take your journey”; “find yourself”; “connect with the world,” some will say. While this “create your own blend” of spirituality seems attractive, we should think twice before embracing it and leaving behind religion altogether.
Interestingly (and even ironically) the etymology of the word religion itself implies a connection between religion and spirituality and their purpose. The latin roots of the word are “re-,” which means again, and “lig-” which means to join or connect. Thus the literal definition could mean “to reconnect” or to “join again.” The classical definition of the Latin word “religio” tells us what the ancients sages had in mind: “awe for [God] and concern for proper ritual” (Michael Molloy, Experiencing the World’s Religions, 5th Edition, p. 5). This gets at the heart of true spirituality as defined in the Holy Bible, which contains the way to true spirituality and its resulting physical, mental and emotional health benefits.
The Bible clearly states that God is spirit (John 4:24) and that He created the physical world, including all human beings, through His spiritual power (Hebrews 11:3). The book of Genesis reveals that mankind enjoyed close contact with the Creator at the beginning (Genesis chapters 1 and 2). Yet because of sinful disobedience to His laws, mankind has been cut off from God for a time. Mankind has been separated from that life-giving Spirit, for the most part, because of continual sinfulness (Isaiah 59:1–3).
True spirituality involves connecting with the true God—the same One who created all life in the first place. Any brand of “spirituality” that falls short of this lacks real substance and is not godly. True spirituality also involves repentance (Acts 17:30). It involves an acknowledgement of where we came from and embracing our purpose here below. It involves a desire to live a way of life exemplified by Jesus Christ when He walked the earth nearly 2,000 years ago (1 John 2:6, Matthew 4:4). Once a person does connect with God through this process, and continues to grow in spiritually and in godliness, he or she is able to experience not only the temporary health benefits of spirituality, espoused by health experts, but ultimately eternal life (1 Timothy 4:8; 1 John 2:25).