When it comes to our health and being a healthy person, the first thing your probably think about is physical health. Eating right, being in shape, exercising, etc. Maybe you take it a step further and realize that a healthy lifestyle also encompasses our mental and spiritual health.

If we are in a good place physically, mentally, and spiritually, then what more can you ask for, right?

Well, I think there is one other aspect of our health that is vitally important, and is just as positive or detrimental to our health as our physical or mental well-being: our relational health.

Why your relational health is so important

Psychologists at Brigham Young University and the University of Utah in 2015 found that social isolation (both actual and perceived) may be more deadly than obesity. Social isolation and feelings of loneliness increase a person’s chance of premature death by 14 percent — nearly double the risk of early death from obesity.

Here’s another one. According to a study in the journal of Perspectives on Psychological Science, the subjective feeling of loneliness increases risk of death by 26%. Meaning not only is loneliness killing us, even feeling lonely over a long period of time has devastating effects on our overall health.

So it’s no surprise that being in community with others is essential to living a life that honors God.

In 1 Corinthians 12:12-27, the Apostle Paul says that all followers of Christ are members of His body, and all have different roles to play. However he word “member” in the Bible is more closely related to the medical word “member” than it is to the common cultural term.

For example, if you lose or have lost a finger, toe, or limb in an accident, on that unfortunate day, you were “dismembered.” That’s the actual technical terminology, a member of your body being separated from the body. That is a tragic thing. Because each person in the church body is an important part of the body of Christ, making community a priority and staying committed to one another as we live out the mission of Jesus together is critical.

Things like being generous to one another, caring for one another, holding each other accountable, praying for each other, grieving with those who are grieving, celebrating with those who are celebrating. So while our salvation has nothing to do with what we do and all to do with what Christ has done, Jesus does call us to follow Him. We can’t follow Him the way He has called us to when we do it by ourselves.

So our relational health is vital. Lack of true relationships actually does hurt our physical health, while having true community has both physical and spiritual benefits.

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