Thursday, November 10, 2011


Have you ever eaten so much that you made yourself sick? Have you had the kind of meal that you ate so far beyond your capacity that it incapacitated you? Maybe a Thanksgiving dinner? Or a potluck? You've stuffed yourself full and you know you should stop but you don't? Have you ever made it your lifestyle? To the point that every time you step on the scale you've found the numbers going up a pound or two?

Physically, I think we've all done at least the meal. Some people like me can relate to fighting to overcome the bad habits of the lifestyle. Fat people live and eat differently than "naturally" thin people. For the thin, food is fuel, a stop in the road. For the fat, food is a destination, a place to get to. Whether you are fat or thin in body, you are one of these types of people in your head. You may have the will to overcome it, you may counter it as best you can with exercise and movement or by limiting what you take in, but if you are "fat-minded" food is still a destination and not a pit stop, and that means there is a problem, to be specific, a sin problem.

The food itself isn't the evil (truly thin people do not find themselves consumed with the count of every calorie, carb or fat gram.) The "evil" lies in the control that the food holds over us. It's the hidden spiritual issue that needs to be overcome, and probably why God listed "gluttony" as one of the seven deadly sins. I don't think He was expressing a concern about diabetes or high cholesterol, I think he was addressing "heart disease," and I don't just mean physically.

The tightening in my waistline has made me very aware of the physical ramifications of that kind of the fat-minded person's lifestyle, but only recently have I seen the depths of living that way spiritually. And I know I'm not the only one. Spiritually speaking it isn't "food" that makes us fat, but like the overeaten meal on Thanksgiving Day, it's the overabundance that incapacitates us. I think of Jesus' interaction with the rich young ruler in the gospel of Luke chapter 18:

18 Now a certain ruler asked Him, saying, “Good Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?”
19 So Jesus said to him, “Why do you call Me good? No one is good but One, that is, God. 20 You know the commandments: ‘Do not commit adultery,’ ‘Do not murder,’ ‘Do not steal,’ ‘Do not bear false witness,’ ‘Honor your father and your mother.’”[a]
21 And he said, “All these things I have kept from my youth.”
22 So when Jesus heard these things, He said to him, “You still lack one thing. Sell all that you have and distribute to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.”
23 But when he heard this, he became very sorrowful, for he was very rich.

I think this young man was spiritually "fat." He had stuffed himself so full, that he couldn't even move. He wanted to follow Jesus, but his overabundance of "satisfaction" kept him from being able to get off the couch.

I think when we get spiritually "fat" we lay aside our commission to become "fishers of men" and turn ourselves into keepers of an aquarium. Forgive the multitude of metaphors here, but we become so satisfied with what's on our own table, and in our own bellies, that we become completely oblivious to the starving just outside our door. And when I say starving, I refer both to those starving physically and those starving spiritually.

I don't think it's intentional, but I think it is the risk we run here in the American church with our abundance; and the "heart disease" that comes from spiritual gluttony is a huge issue we need to overcome. We sit and thank God for our bounty, but our memory of what it was to be hungry (physically and spiritually speaking) is so completely faded, that we don't really appreciate what we have. And instead of being satisfied with "enough," we overindulge, and even suffer a consequence for it with a stagnation that is easily ignored if you find yourself surrounded by other "fat-minded" people.

It's then that we become "aquarium keepers" rather than the "fishers of men" we were called to be. We get focused on wrong things. First off, we forget that what we "have" isn't really ours, and was never intended to lull us into a place of complacenncy. We get to thinking of ourselves as owners rather than stewards. Like in the Parable of the Talents (Matthew 25:14-30), what God has given to us was intended to be multiplied. Not for the purpose of us having more, but for the purpose of furthering of His kingdom.

There is a need to become "spiritually thin." In Hebrews 12:1 the Bible tells us "let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us I think God is calling us to thin out, and cease to overindulge. We need to remember what it is to be spiritually hungry.

I know I have a habit of not allowing myself to find physical hunger, but only recently have I begun to realize how much I have been too "satisfied" spiritually for too long. One of the most obvious ways to realize you are "fat" is to be surrounded by thin people. Never am I more aware of my thick waistline than when I am standing next to a thin friend for a photograph. Likewise, what I am finding, is that when you enter into a place of "spiritually thin" people, it magnifies your awareness of being spiritually fat as well.

God has brought me into a place where I am suddenly surrounded by the spiritually thin (and interestingly enough, many of them seem pretty fit and thin physically as well) and all I can think is how much I want to get to that place. I want to get to the place where I am focused on fishing men, looking outside the confines of my aquarium.

I want to find my way back to physically thin, but never have I realized the need to get there spiritually as well. I want to touch the world for Christ, and point people to the cross. There's a world starvig out there, and it's time to get off the couch and do something about it.

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