Scans, screenings, and blood letting

The last two weeks has been an adventure with my body and medicine. I foolishly stuck my arm in the blood pressure machine at a drugstore and was shocked at my blood pressure reading. Thought I’d better check out my health and face all the dreaded tests to ensure I’ll be alive in a month.

You know the procedure: visit the doctor, prod and poke, tap and shine the little light, and other unmentionables… Then off to the lab for blood to be drained… and other unmentionables…. Eventually return for the verdict and thankfully have confirmed that basically all the parts are in acceptable working order. Gotta watch the cholesterol though and a little reduction in weight wouldn’t hurt, and less red meat, not too much alcohol, plenty of exercise, and so on. And that’s all in the name of health and catching sickness and disease as early as possible… heading the red flags and warning signs. There are laboratories that exist merely to conduct these tests. The older we get the more frequently we are advised to undergo the scans, screenings, and blood letting.

The education system is the first contact we usually have with testing and measuring to determine how the invisible interior is developing. We monitor reading, comprehension, problem solving, and speech development in order to gauge how brain function is progressing and whether an individual is within the boundaries of ‘normal development’.

These medical and educational tests are universally applied and approved with some variations for local distinctives, but on the whole it’s the same.

So it strikes me as interesting that when it comes to spiritual growth, truth, and developmental assessments – there are none. Suddenly all ‘norms’ are thrown out of the window and relative truth, feelings, emotions, cultures, personality, personal opinion and bias are all granted an authority unheard of in the other two disciplines. I guess it’s because it’s hard to argue with the tangible… cut someone in Africa and they bleed red blood just the same as a citizen in Siberia or China.

It’s also true of scientific principles… drop a brick in Chile and it falls under the influence of gravity the same is it does in the Alps.

However when we consider God…. we are ignorant of universal spiritual principles, indignant that there should only be one truth, and claustrophobic at the suggestion that submitting to a spiritual check up could be quite revealing.

Personally I would find it so refreshing to be booked solid with people hungry for God and asking for evaluations, tests, and spiritual health checks – motivated by the desire to grow and be healthy. Instead the story is invariably one of denial and anger at the suggestion that we may have some issues, our diet could be harmful, or that God is far more exciting when mixed with community, music, healing, and (dare I say it) giving and receiving forgiveness.

Blood pressure can tell a lot about our overall state of health, fitness, and stress levels. Attitude and love (of the servant blood group) are two measures of spiritual health and well-being difficult to fabricate. Jesus set the bar high as an elite spiritual athlete in human form… not to boast but merely to provide an example of what human bodies, minds, and spirits are capable of when aligned and in a Father/child relationship with the living personal God he revealed.

Let’s not be too stubborn or proud to find out more before we jump to foolish conclusions when it comes to the matter of diagnosing and measuring spiritual health. The purpose is not to condemn but rather to sustain and enjoy the best quality of life possible. Those who self diagnose are invariably the sickest and least healthy…. for they grow accustomed to the reflection in the mirror as being their measure of normal and healthy.

Let me encourage you to share your spiritual growth with others, keep a sense of humor, and allow the check ups (available if you wish) to guide you deeper into a dynamic relationship with a God who adores you and shares a passionate dislike for phony, fake, and empty religion. If you want a taste of authentic spiritual health and all you have settled for is a spiritual treadmill at home – you ain’t seen healthy at all… there’s much more – and it can be fun – just dare to smash the mirror, open the door, and get another opinion 🙂

John Cox

Offering Pastoral Counselling to encourage, heal, transform, and give hope.

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