There is a saying ‘we are what we eat’ which has been used to educate people about the kind of food they ought to be eating. I’ve had to deal with a difficult relationship with food most of my life; I am prone to gluttony and have often been overweight; if I’m addicted to anything at all, it’s probably food. It’s not particularly difficult to know what we ought to eat; the problem usually comes because we like a whole range of things that are not especially good for us or because we don’t know when to stop eating! (or know, but don’t want to stop anyway!)

Just as important as our physical health is our spiritual health, however. Paul tells Timothy ‘train yourself to be godly. For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come.’ (1 Tim 4:7-8) Sadly, we’re often more interested in our physical health than our spiritual health. (Perhaps it seems more visible and ‘real’ to us…)

Over the past thirty years I have come to see that ‘we are what we believe’. We simply cannot divide faith from any aspect of our lives. Why should we look after our bodies and strive to be healthy? Because our bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit (1 Cor 6:20 TNIV). Why should we care about the poor and disadvantaged in our society? Because God commands us to. (Deut 15: 11 TNIV, Prov 22:2 TNIV, Is 58 TNIV). Why do we believe in the sanctity of human life and therefore oppose abortion and euthanasia? Because we believe we are made in the image of God (Gen 1:27 TNIV), that life begins at conception (Psalm 139:13-16 TNIV), that life is precious as a result and that God holds the keys of life and death (see Revelation 1 TNIV).

We have to know what we believe and why we believe and whom we believe. As a church I hope we teach these things regularly, because if it’s true that we are what we believe, then it’s obviously important we are believing the right things. Our faith will determine our actions and as the world very well knows, actions speak louder than words.

There is a great deal of diversity within churches over what we actually believe. The Apostles’ Creed sets out what could be called ‘the bare minimum of belief’; most churches have a ‘Statement of Beliefs’ pinned up on a notice board. But belief and faith are about more than giving mental assent to a neatly typed list. We have to do more than read the Word of God; we have to obey it (see James 1:22-25 TNIV). One of the prayers in the ‘Book of Common Prayer’ urges us (with regard to the holy Scriptures) to ‘hear them, read, mark, learn and inwardly digest them, that by patience and comfort of thy holy Word, we may embrace and ever hold fast the blessed hope of everlasting life, which thou hast given us in our Saviour Jesus Christ.’

Computer programmers used to talk about ‘GIGO’ – ‘garbage in, garbage out.’ Whether it’s computers or food or spiritual things, the principle is the same. What we inwardly digest will determine what kind of people we become. Let’s train ourselves to be godly and believe all that God says!