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Think of God by Larry Sheehy

Why should we serve the Lord?

    Occasionally a study or survey is reported suggesting a link between active religious faith and physical and/or mental well-being.  Though there are many exceptions to this, people who go to church, statistically speaking, experience better health than those who avoid spiritual groups.  A number of reasons are suggested for this connection, including (1) the fact that Christianity teaches respect for the body, and (2) the positive social relationships that can be found in religious circles.  
    There can be little doubt both of these are factors in the relative physical and mental prosperity of church members.  God’s will for his people is nothing if not practical.  Though we may not always be able to see the practicality of his instructions, in this case, it’s obvious, isn’t it?  When we take care of ourselves physically, and spend significant time with people whose values and purposes we share, it naturally follows that our health will benefit.  As the adage suggests, “This isn’t rocket science!”
    It may be that I just haven’t been in “the right place at the right time,” but I don’t recall ever hearing what, to me, is the most obvious reason why the consistent practice of faith results in physical and mental well being.  Isn’t there something to be said for the relationship that people have with God, as the explanation for that well-being?  Our relationship with our heavenly Father is its own justification!  
    David, king of Israel, expressed a number of strong motivations in his psalms of penitence.  Among them is a desperate need for forgiveness for his sins and reconciliation to his God.
    “Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight. ...  Let me hear joy and gladness; let the bones you have crushed rejoice. ... Hide your face from my sins and blot out all my iniquity. ...  Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me.” (Psalm 51:4, 8, 9, 11)
    In a passage not easy to interpret, God makes it clear he wants us to recognize the value of our relationship with him; so much so, it appears, that he speaks of his jealousy of that relationship, and the danger of its destruction, brought about by our flirtation with the world.
    “You should know that loving the world is the same as hating God.  Anyone who wants to be a friend of the world becomes God’s enemy.  Do you think the Scripture means nothing that says, ‘The Spirit that God made to live in us wants us for himself alone?’” (James 4:4, 5.  Compare Exodus 20:5)  
    Whatever our motivation for serving God - and there is a wagon-load of good ones - we should understand that God himself is the first and the best reason for our allegiance.

    Larry Sheehy is an elder and pulpit minister at Statesboro Church of Christ. He can be reached at (912) 764-5269.

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