I was alarmed recently when I went to the doctor for my physical and found out that I had gained some weight. Now, it may seem petty, but I have been between 180 and 185 lbs. for literally the last twenty years. So you can understand my surprise when the doctor told me I weighed 192 lbs. It’s not a huge increase, but I quickly realized that in middle age, the weight does in fact catch up with you like I was warned.
I can probably hear some of you saying, “I’d love to only weigh that much!” I only mention it to show I’ve been a little undisciplined, that I’ve taken one too many trips to the all-you-can-eat buffet and listened one too many times to that ravenous voice in my head that says I need a snack at 11 o’clock at night. Putting aside some very real medical and physical issues that cause some people to be overweight, most obesity is simply a result of taking in more calories than you can burn off. Apparently, the problem is pretty widespread too. According to the National Institute of Health, 74% of men and 64% of women in America are considered overweight or obese and the number is continually rising.
I believe there is a deeper problem behind the increasing rates of obesity and it has nothing to do with food. In fact, we may be seeing the same phenomenon in parts of the church today and it’s becoming detrimental to our ability to win people for Christ. I believe the problem lies with the fact that we have a consumer mentality. In terms of our bodies, when we consume too much it gets stored as fat and can ruin our health. In regards to the church, when we consume too much, we think only of our own spiritual appetite and miss the chance to be the true church to the world around us.
Ask any preacher or body of elders from any congregation of your choice and most will say that people primarily look at church as a means to be filled. People want sermons that pander, programs that provide, and decisions to be made that fit their opinions. Church has become a place where if your needs aren’t being met, you move on to somewhere else or leave the church altogether. Instead, we should be fixated on serving rather than taking. We should be asking, “What can I do with my life, my time, and my talents to serve God and his kingdom purposes?”
Sure, we should feed ourselves from time to time. We should consume scripture because it brings life. But we should also feed others, looking for ways to encourage, pray for, and teach those who need the life-giving sustenance that only God can provide.
I say, let’s all go on a diet together. Let’s be more concerned about the needs of others and not just our own. Let’s share the bread of life (John 6:35) and the living water (John 7:37-38) with as many people as we can so they can know Christ and have their spirits quenched. I guarantee this diet will have a much bigger effect on your soul than any fad diet would ever have on your body.
(John 6:27a) “27 Do not work for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give to you.”
(John 6:33) “33 For the bread of God is he who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.”
(John 6:51a) “51 I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever.”