Physical Health & Spirituality

A painful ear infection sent me to the doctor a couple weeks ago. While I sat on the exam table, my doctor looked back through my medical chart with a perplexed look on his face.

“When was your last physical, Mr. Kirbach?  I’m not seeing it in your chart.”

Sheepishly, I confessed, “It was in 2001 when I began college.”

Apparently, even for a young person, 15 years is too long to go between physical exams.  And after the doc pointed out my marginally high blood pressure and growing waste line, I anticipated a lecture. But instead, he confronted me with a challenging question: “Isn’t physical wellness part of the Christian tradition?”

My physician is not a Christian but he is familiar with our faith.  And yes, I had to admit, physical wellness is part of the Christian tradition.  A significant yet often overlooked part.

Physical health and wellness is not merely a medical issue.  In fact, it is a spiritual issue.  From the Apostle Paul’s insistence that a piece of God dwells in our bodies (1 Cor. 6:19-20) to the blessing that we might all be physically well (3 John 1:2), maintaining a healthy body is, indeed, an act of worship.  When we take good care of our bodies, we’re actually taking good care of a very important part of God’s creation.

“Dear friend, I hope all is well with you and that you are as healthy in body as you are strong in spirit.” (3 John 1:2 NLT)

For Jesus and the Apostles, keeping fit wasn’t a trend or fad like it can be for us.  Walking was the primary mode of transportation in those days.  Only the wealthiest had use of camels or donkeys.  Using the information we have of Jesus’ movements as recorded in scripture, some biblical researches have suggested Jesus walked a total of 3,125 miles during his three-year ministry (from his baptism to the cross).  That’s about 20 miles a week for three straight years.  During his entire life, including his family’s exile to and return from Egypt, Jesus covered more than 21,000 miles on foot!

After thinking of my doctor’s question, and considering the scriptures regarding health and wellness, I’ve decided to walk with Jesus.  And I invite you to join me!

Starting on March 31, Thursday evenings we’ll “Walk with Jesus”!  Join me at the Gardens at SIUE at 6:30 PM.  The Gardens is a botanical garden full of beautiful flowers and plants native to Southern Illinois.  A ½ mile ADA compliant asphalt walking trail loops through the Gardens providing a soothing and quiet atmosphere to walk and enjoy God’s creation.  Pets are welcome (but must remain leashed) and there are benches all along the trail for those who need to take a break every now and then.  Some may walk many laps, others may complete one.  Some may walk briskly while others will enjoy a gentle evening stroll.  Bring your family and friends – the more the merrier!  All the details about this walking ministry are available here.


Could you walk from Jerusalem to Bethlehem?  What about from Jerusalem to Caesarea?  Maybe you can even make it from Jerusalem to Capernaum!  We’ll continue walking on Thursday evenings all summer, so you can log your New Testament mileage!

I do hope you’ll join me as you’re able on Thursday evenings this spring and summer.  Walking with companions always makes the journey more enjoyable, and the outcome of better health and wellness is a spiritual act of worship I think we’ve been overlooking.



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