“Fit … well, I livin’ on earth now. So I must be fit to live on earth,” my mother said.” I can’t go to heaven with this body.”

Every week I call my 84-year-old mother. Now I can appreciate her thoughts and views, even when we disagree. I think it is her voice I want to hear and remember more than anything else. So I emailed my sister, who takes care of my mother, telling her to give Mummy this question, as we affectionately call our mother: Are you fit to live in heaven or on earth? The exchange as received from my sister made me chuckle and sigh.

“I won’t need a body in heaven!” she assured my sister. “My Bible tells me I will get a new body. You can’t go to heaven with this body.”

“Well, what did Jesus have when He was resurrected?” my sister inquired. “Didn’t Jesus show His hands and invite people to stick their hand in His side? Wasn’t the point to show that He was in a real body?”

“That was a special body.”

“It was a body; that’s the point!” my sister remarked strongly.

“It was a spiritual body! Ain’t no way this body goin’ to heaven,” my mother said jubilantly, as if she was envisioning Jesus coming right then.

“You’re gettin’ mixed up. Go, think about it.”

“Ain’t nothin’ for me to think ’bout. The Bible says we will have a new body.”

Her excitement turning to anger, my mother was furious—so furious she left for her usual prayer meeting that afternoon without closing the gate to the yard.

For an 84-year old woman, my mother is healthy and fit. Except for an old back injury that has come back to haunt her, she is physically, mentally and spiritually sharp. She faces every challenge with gusto, including the question “are you fit to live in heaven or on earth”. My mother grew up, like most of us believers, preparing for a life beyond this one.

Heaven is the place where we are taught as believers to prepare for an afterlife. But I can’t help but wonder if that is the reason so many believers have left this earth prematurely. Many have died from lifestyle diseases, such as Type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular diseases, that are, for the most part, avoidable. The latest statistics coming out of the United Kingdom and United States have given me premise to write the book The Ten Guiding Lights to Health and Wholeness for the faith-based community. Researchers, such as Lycett, have called for a weight health intervention tailored for Catholics and Protestants alike who have a higher body mass index and waist-hip ratio than any other religious group. The truth of the matter is, we believers are on the fastest lane out of here by eating our way into heaven and refusing to budge literally and metaphorically. Most of us refuse to live an active life and to let go of our old way of thinking, knowing quite well that the way we are living does not make sense. How can we live such unfit lives physically and mentally yet be fit spiritually? If the mind is not transformed, how can we live the best life here on earth—both physically and spiritually?

So is heaven your sole goal?

I say it should not be. Our goal is to live here also on earth, praying for God’s kingdom to come on earth as it is in heaven.

Scripture

However, we have made God’s kingdom about eating and drinking rather than about living right and experiencing His joy and peace while actually here on earth. Do I really have to go to heaven to experience the fullness of God’s peace and joy?

Scripture

Almost every event at church involves food. If you want to get people to attend your church event, just announce there will be food. If you want the least amount of people to attend, don’t announce there will be food. I have nothing against food at any church event, but really? Even the Apostle Paul had to give instructions regarding communion, telling the believers to eat before they came to the Lord’s table. Some things never change!

STAY TUNE FOR PART II

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