Paradox (from dictionary.reference.com) [par-uh-doks]: a statement or proposition that seems self-contradictory or absurd but in reality expresses a possible truth.
Because of what this definition states, who the church is, what it does and who heads it (Christ), and because of the current state of health affairs in the church, the phrase “obese church” is a paradox. In other words, it is something that shouldn’t be true, but it is.
Studies show that approximately two-thirds of our society is overweight or obese. TWO-THIRDS…over half of the population! And it appears to be the same in the Church. But why is it a problem? Well, Romans 12:2 tells us to not conform to the ways of the world, but to be transformed by our minds being renewed so that we can show what God’s will is. The next question is, does obesity line up with God’s will for us? Considering the many problems that come along with having extra weight, I think that the quick answer is no.
Is the church turning a blind eye to the obesity problem? Fried chicken, macaroni and cheese, dinner rolls, pound cake…all washed down with sweet tea. This is most of the typical after church dinner I’ve seen in churches since I was a little kid. Nothing wrong with this every now and then, but unfortunately this is the norm. Also, obesity isn’t limited to the pews, but extends into the pulpit and the choir stands. By looking at TV or the internet, it is easily seen that many of our pastors and ministers are dealing with significant weight problems. Think about this, though…often our churches, with good intentions, are stuffing our ministers with food, giving them huge plates at church functions, and sending them home with several carryout plates. Now please don’t think that I am trying to bash and condemn us. Far from it! My intention is to bring attention to the problem so that we don’t live under a cloud and fail to fully live out the lives that God has given us.
I do want to acknowledge that there are many ministries out there that are doing health fairs, diabetes and hypertension screenings and the like. This is great. It shows that the weight and health problems in the church are being noticed and addressed. The only thing though, is that health programs in the church cannot stop at promoting management of weight, or management of diabetes or hypertension. I have read testimonies and heard directly from individuals who dealt with these problems, but when they changed habits, they were able to overcome whatever they were dealing with. If it is indeed possible to overcome something, why just talk about learning to live with it?
Fast foods, snack foods, energy drinks, etc. are constantly put before us and tempt us all the same. It is HARD to withstand these temptations while being bombarded by them daily. I fight every week with the thought that a just few aisles away from my work desk lie an amazing assortment of candies, drinks, ice creams and other snacks They are cheap, too…and especially tempting when I don’t prepare my food like I was supposed to the night before (sigh).
In spite of the temptations we face, God has given us a higher calling. “I can’t do it; it’s so hard.” Well yes and no; we can’t, but yet we can. God said that He would give us a helper, the Holy Spirit. He has offered to help us do the very things He called us to do. “Well, the Holy Spirit doesn’t help us with that kind of thing. I never heard Him tell me anything like that.” Now, I promise I don’t intend to bash or seem like I am beyond this, because I’m not, but perhaps sometimes we put our ears into “selective hearing” mode, hearing what we want, and discarding or discounting the rest. You might be surprised if while being intentional in listening for God that you feel that part of you telling you that you don’t need that honey bun, as the rest of you almost screams for it. “Well yeah, but how does that help me? I need Him to move my legs to walk me away from the food. I need Him to take the taste out of my mouth for it.” Ha…now what kind of God would God be if He controlled us like that? He loves us so much that He gives us good options in the midst of the bad ones, and still gives us the choice to eat His way or otherwise. We are responsible for the choosing part.
My overall point is, God has given us a higher calling than to suffer with weight issues all of our lives. When we get to a place where we feel like we cannot lose the weight, and that unhealthiness is perhaps our destiny, we forget that “if the Son sets you free, you are truly free (http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=John+8%3A36&version=NLT).” Let us not continue to settle for less health-wise than what God intended for us. Let us live out God’s will so that “obese” and “church” can one day never be used again in the same sentence.