Maintaining a Healthy Wholeness
And Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men.
(Luke 2:52 NIV)
What an amazing thought that Jesus was called Immanuel, meaning “God with us.” As fully God and fully man, Jesus experienced life as we humans know it. He was “tempted in every way, just as we are- yet was without sin” (Heb. 4:15). This man, Jesus, walked the earth, ate his vegetables and lamb chops, formed wood into functional materials, went fishing, hiked mountains, and traveled and socialized with His fellow human beings.
He knew what it was like to go hungry, for He fasted 40 days and 40 nights. He knew the discomfort of thirst, for He asked the woman at the well for a drink. He became exhausted from His journeys, for, during a life-threatening storm, He fell asleep in a boat tossed precariously upon the waves of the sea. He experienced anguish of soul, pushed to the breaking point, in the garden of Gethsemane and certainly upon the cross where His strength was siphoned away. He is not a distant God who fails to understand our troubles. He has walked in the shoes of every man, and as Job cried out, “He knows the way that I take” (Job 23:10). Jesus was truly a man’s man.
As a human, Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man. These things represent four dimensions of the human experience: physical, intellectual, spiritual and social. Jesus was certainly a “spiritual” man. He defined godliness to perfection. His heart and actions continually pleased God as He functioned in, and cared for, not just His spirit, but all four of these dimensions.
Jesus cared for His body and mind. He exercised to develop His physical “stature.” Physical exercise does “profit a little.” He had a physical job, working with His hands. He walked miles and miles during His years of ministry. He ate healthy food and cared for His physical being. Jesus was also diligent in developing His mind. He learned to read and write, just like us. To earn a living, He was apprenticed in carpentry, but He also learned much about growing wheat, cultivating a vineyard, planting seeds, harvesting crops and bringing in the big catch from the sea. And, of course, He studied the scriptures with great intensity and fervor.
Relationships were of utmost importance to Jesus. He continually cared for people’s thoughts, feelings, and physical and spiritual well-being. Despite our religious experience, and the example of others, Jesus was someone that most common people wanted to be with. In the scriptures, people did not often run away from Christ, but they were intensely drawn to the warmth of His light and life. He talked with them, ate with them, worked and worshiped with them. Jesus cared for His social life, growing in favor with man. Jesus also nurtured His spiritual relationship with His heavenly Father. He was faithful in prayer and open to the voice of the Spirit without interruption. He worshiped His Father with a pure heart. He grew in knowledge and revelation of the Father, and conformed to this increasing understanding of the Father’s will, as He “learned obedience by the things that He suffered” (Heb. 5:8). Jesus developed Himself in all four of these areas of life: physical, intellectual, social and spiritual, carefully keeping them in an efficient balance so that He might most effectively glorify God.
As you look toward this New Year, remember to grow “In Christ” as Jesus grew, in “wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man.” As many things try to draw you out of balance, remember to stay committed to the care of your body, stimulate your mind by growing in knowledge, understanding and revelation, care for those relationships that God has given to you, and make this the best year of meaningful fellowship with your heavenly Father. As “God with us,” or better yet, “God in us”, I think these things are exactly what Immanuel would lead us to do.
Have a balanced, healthy and Happy New Year!