Topical Tuesday: The Gospel of Girth?
Today we’re marching on in our spring series of Topical Tuesday posts, where you pick the topic / ask a question and I start pecking away at the computer like some sort of redneck Mr. Answer Man. (as if that’s comforting)
Want to ask a question about anything – ministry, theology, life in general? Comment here.
Kiani asks: We talk about all sorts of things that we commonly use to replace God in our lives: love, sex, money, stuff. We also talk about good stewardship–wise use and care of the resources that God gives us. Why don’t we ever take the this step further and talk about proper stewardship of our bodies and our health? Food is a God thing to a lot of people. Vanity is as well. God’s provided us with perfect and capable bodies, and so many squander that gift. Why won’t the church address this? Should it?
Yes, the church should. Especially because it gives me the chance to use one of my favorite Charles Spurgeon stories. It revolves around a visit that his fellow evangelist D.L. Moody made to his home. Spurgeon was known for his love of cigars, and Moody was known for his rather rotund belly. It’s rumored that Moody asked Spurgeon when he was going to give up the evils of tobacco. Spurgeon famously replied, “Mr. Moody, I’ll put down my cigar when you put down your fork.”
Everybody has their vice, but church folks tend to like their vices out in front of them where they’re highly visible…and where they can be patted. Or maybe used as a cheeseburger tray. We live in a country where obesity walks a thin line between glorification and vilification. Shows like Man Vs. Food continue to gain popularity while the restaurant industry comes under fire for larger portions.
So how does the church respond to good stewardship of our bodies? The same way we respond to the stewardship of any other gift from God: we submit it to the gospel.
Like most gifts, we take diet and exercise to one of two extremes: idle or idol. If we go the route of idle, we fail to utilize the gifts we’ve been given. If we’re idle in our marriages, our spouses suffer. If we’re idle in our spiritual gifts, the church suffers. If we’re idle with our bodies, our couches suffer (don’t act like you don’t see that big ol’ butt print).
If we take the path of idol, we elevate our bodies to an honor they were never meant to hold. We count every calorie and measure every workout. We become consumed with health not for the sake of health, but for the sake of pride and control. And besides that, we’re no fun when dining out (“You’re going to eat THAT? Do you know how many carbs that thing has?”).
This is an area that has become more personal to me in the last couple of years. For much of my life I was one of those warped and twisted individuals that could eat whatever I wanted and still look relatively healthy. Eventually the Ho Ho’s and Reese’s Cup milkshakes caught up with me, and I wasn’t the man I once was (I was like an expanded director’s cut). I finally decided to take charge of my health and get the splurging under control. And while I’m no longer as adamant about watching every potato chip, it’s still an area I have to monitor.
Our time on earth is brief. Our mission is vital. I already know my to-do list will outlive me, I just don’t want to be guilty of short-circuiting my calling by bellying back up to the buffet.
Much. I meant, “by bellying back up to the buffet much.”
Don’t judge me.