Spiritual Obesity

Kelly McFadden wrote about an experience she had with her husband, where they went on a backpacking trip in January through the Rocky Mountains.  On their trip, they hiked six miles into the wilderness and stopped at a hut that was not accessible by car or motorized vehicles.  They set out carrying enough supplies for three days, hiking uphill at zero degrees Fahrenheit.  About three miles into their trip, her husband said, “You know, it is a lot easier to get fatter than to stay in shape!”  He was struggling to get up the mountain and was bringing up the rear of their hiking group.

Isn’t that true?  It’s easier to stay in shape, than it is to try to get back in to shape.  It’s easier to keep the weight off in the first place, than to try to take off pounds after they have already been added to your body.  Ever since book best-seller lists were invented, there have always been dieting books on them.  Losing weight is hard.  If we knew the secret that would work for everybody, we would have figured it out by now.  Losing weight is an adaptive challenge.  It requires us to change how we think, how we act, and what our habits are.  It requires us to learn new ways to respond to stress and pressure and anxiety.  And that is not easy.  Obesity has become one of our biggest health issues today.  Obesity has a correlation with a sedentary lifestyle – too much sitting in a recliner or on a couch, eating too much food, and not getting enough exercise.

Another big concern is something called Spiritual Obesity.  Spiritual Obesity refers to churchgoers who live a spiritually sedentary lifestyle – too much sitting in a worship service, being fed spiritual food, but not getting enough exercise.  It’s too much eating, but not enough exercise.  It’s too much spiritual consumption, but not enough spiritual service.  It’s always taking in more spiritual food, without going out and sharing what has been given to us.  It results from a lot of “inflow” and not enough “outflow”.  We know about physical obesity, but we also have to watch out for spiritual obesity.

Physical obesity is epidemic in our country and is considered one of the top preventable killers of our time.  In fact, a new study has found that the government could help stop the growing epidemic with more regulations.  They could pass laws to keep fatty foods off the market, or tax them so high that nobody would want to buy them.  I suppose God could do that for spiritual obesity too.  God could force us into service, giving back to our communities, caring for others, and sharing our faith.  But, then it wouldn’t come from our hearts.  It wouldn’t be what we wanted to do.  And we would quickly resent having to do it.  God has given us free will.  God allows us to choose to the right things, just as He allows us to choose to do the wrong things.  He could force us to do what is right, but He wants us to want to do what is right.

Kelly McFadden wrote that after their difficult hiking experience, her husband spent the next year getting in shape.  He changed some habits, exercised more, watched what he ate, and declared he would never be the last one up the mountain again.  The following year, he was among the first group to arrive at the top.

What does getting in spiritual shape look like?  Do we let ourselves get lazy and complacent in the summer?  Will we end up paying for it later?  Getting in spiritual shape might mean helping to feed the homeless or giving 10% or more of our financial resources away.  It might mean getting to know our neighbors or building relationships with our unchurched friends.  It might mean getting involved in meeting a need in a local school or somewhere in our community.  It might mean leading a small group or Sunday School class or visiting someone in the hospital.

As Christians, we don’t want to keep receiving all the time without giving anything away.  We don’t want to just go to church to receive, without sharing what we have learned with others.  We don’t want to ignore the spiritual gifts God has given us.  We need to exercise them and put them to use.  We don’t want to become spiritually obese.  We want to stay in spiritual shape.  We want our spirits and our souls to be strong and healthy.  We want to be people of good character.  The more we give away, the more we can live as Christ’s witnesses in our world.

 

Advertisements

Tags: , , , , , , ,

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: