The second thing that will mark the true Christian is—what? obedience? That is only part of the answer. Shall I say obedience to God's laws?
Again that doesn't tell it out fully. It is this, obedience to Christ in everything, and this includes the common laws of health.
Now, some saintly folk will begin to think that this is rather dropping to a low level. "The laws of our body!" you say.
The truth is it is climbing up a bit for most of us. Oh, yes, I know you say you would gladly sacrifice bodily comforts and strength for Christ's sake. And you mean it.
Yes, but you need to be on your guard lest you are disregarding the law of your body for your own sake, because of what you prefer, or don't prefer.
And, and, this may deprive Christ of the messenger He needs. You may be giving Him a poorer crippled service when you needn't. And it may be in an emergency when your poorer service, your failure, slows up His plans.
For Christ's sake, in the thick of the emergency of life, the true Christian seeks to make his body the strongest possible, the most disciplined channel through which Christ's power may flow. And this is done through a thoughtful obedience to its laws.
This is keeping "the body under," under the control of that Christ passion. Disobeying its law, carelessness, not-thinking, may be letting your body get the upper hand.
It gets from under, up on top, hindering your best service. Christ has been robbed of the needed service of many a saintly child of His, through unconscious thoughtless disregard of his body, or worse.
The touchstone of the Christian life is the same as the touchstone of the true human life, obedience. But obedience is not a matter of doing or not doing certain things.
It's on a higher level than that. It's doing as a certain One wants or would prefer. Not "things," but "a Person" holds your eye. It's getting or keeping in better shape for the errand He has sent you on.
The thing that seems small or trivial in itself is now thought seriously about. Because so you can be a truer Christian in your conduct, and so you are better fitted for what that One wants done, and more serviceable to your fellows.
It's astonishing the commonness of indifference to, and disobedience of, the rhythmic laws of health, among not only good but really saintly people.
Such disobedience or indifference or carelessness in other matters would rule a man out of life. It would make him a forced exile.
He couldn't keep a bank account without careful obedience to the laws of the bank. He couldn't run an automobile, nor be a student in any sort of college or school, nor run a successful business, nor move in polite society, nor be member of a club. Obedience to law (a recognized agreed-upon sequence of action) is the commonplace of all intercourse.
And the thing moves up to a wholly higher level when it concerns a Christian, and especially when it concerns his body. For the Christian aims to live the truly ideal life in a practical way, for Christ's sake, as well as for his own.
And his body is the fine tool he works with. He'll surely keep his tool in the best possible shape all the time for the sake of the work it does.
The true Christian takes pains to learn about his body, and to think into its need, that so he can be free of his body, free to do his work.
Obedience means intelligence, being informed, becoming skilled. So the habit of a wise obedience is formed, and one is strong and free. One thinks about his body so he can forget it in the thick of his work.
It is striking that the Book of God gives the principles of everything we need. There are the two models here for the bodily life. The earliest is Adam in Eden before the serpent got in.
The second is the model of God's messenger nation. It is much fuller and more explicit, because the serpent had gotten in. And now there are things to guard against. These have been already spoken of.
Recalling these two models, there are some six things that the thoughtful Christian will think about, so he needn't think about them when absorbed in his work.
In a sane, intelligent way he will think about and form certain habits. Then he is free to do something worth while.