TONY ELDER: The Bible promotes health, growth in the lives of those who follow it

It seems that we're constantly receiving warnings about foods and other items that could pose a threat to our health.

One of the more recent scares has to do with orange juice. We're being told that some of that product being brought in from other countries contains a degree of certain chemicals and pesticides which some would consider to be unsafe. I heard one woman on the news declaring that she hasn't purchased any orange juice ever since this report came out.

I have to confess that I'm still drinking my glass of OJ every morning. After all, my mother told me that I need the vitamin C. And who are you going to believe -- your mother or some scientific study?

Don't get me wrong, I'm actually very grateful for those who watch out for the health and safety of consumers. But I don't easily alter my lifestyle for every little negative news report that comes out about a product. If I did, I probably wouldn't be able to eat or drink anything. And that would definitely pose a threat to my health.

Apparently even the Bible is a risk to our health.

It used to be that whenever you had to spend some time in a hospital you could count on a couple of things. One was staff telling you that you need to rest, while they kept you awake all night with their incessant checking of your vital signs. The other was having a Gideon Bible nearby to be able to read in between those nurses' visits.

However, many hospitals no longer allow those Bibles to stay in patients' rooms. It's not that they're anti-Christian. It's simply a health issue.

They completely clean up a room when one patient is discharged and before another takes up residence in that location. Everything is either cleaned or disposed of, which means that Bibles as potential germ carriers can't stick around from one patient to another.

It's understandable. And I'm grateful for their concern. But I'm even more grateful that there are those who still seek the spiritual health of people along with their physical health.

For example, at one of our local hospitals, the Gideons still graciously offer to supply the facility with Bibles to be made available to those who request them. It might not be as convenient as having that sacred book already present on the table right next to you, but at least it's available upon request.

It's strange to think of the Bible as a health risk. It's one of our greatest sources for spiritual sustenance. When He was being tempted in the wilderness, Jesus noted, "Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God" (Matthew 4:4).

Peter encouraged believers to "desire the pure milk of the word, that you may grow thereby" (I Peter 2:2). The Bible actually promotes health and growth in the lives of those who feed on it.

What really puts a person at risk is to neglect God's Word. To do so puts one in danger of being deceived by lies and half-truths. It puts one at risk of becoming weak in the faith and susceptible to temptation. It can stunt one's growth and hinder a person's effectiveness in serving the Lord.

I'm less concerned about the germs I may receive from sharing a copy of the Bible and more grateful that its truths can help me ward off evil and sin in my life.

So whatever you may decide about drinking orange juice, make sure you don't risk your health and well-being due to neglecting to read and obey God's Word.

The Rev. Tony W. Elder is pastor of Wesley Community Fellowship Church. He can be reached at 770-483-3405 or by e-mail at RevTElder@aol.com.