Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Veggie (Fairy)Tales

"Don't think you're gonna get fit by pretending to be healthy.  Actually live in such a way that promotes good health." - James 1:22 (RSV)

I really, really, really like to eat.  It’s a borderline love affair.  Do you ever have the feeling where you are sitting at a meal and though you are full, you continue to eat just because it tastes good.  Yeah, We’ve all been there. 

The reality is nowadays I would say I tend to eat healthier than most of my single male counterparts.  However, this does not stop me from the pursuit of the delicious calorie free ice cream.  (Hey, we can all dream, right?)

When I am eating with a group, particularly when I am trying to get in better shape, or trying to lose a few lbs, everyone will know that I am eating bird like and that no wasted calories can be taken in.  It is just salad, sans dressing of course, lean chicken, fruits, and veggies for this guy. 

I like having that stereotype about me.

I like people thinking that I am healthy.

I like that people think I’m disciplined.

But here’s the problem…When no one is looking; or awake, I have a tendency to find the bag of chips, the ice cream carton, or open late fast food line. 

There it is, I said it.

More often than not I find a way to sneak in indulgences without anyone knowing.  After all, I can’t have people think I am not as fit as I want them to.

Equally, if I am gut-level honest, I want people to think that I know Jesus.  Like eating healthy, more often than not I am quite disciplined in my spiritual disciplines.  I like to read lots of different Christian books.  I even listen to sermons on Moody Radio!  (Another sign of how old I am getting?  Don’t answer that.)

But other times, I am incredible at pretending I know Jesus.  I reference things I have read or things I have heard other people say.

On the one hand, the scriptures are quite clear: enjoy the applause you get because that’s all that is coming.

Paul goes on noting that knowledge only puffs up, while love builds up.  I love that idea.  I liken it to healthy eating.  Public displays of discipline make ourselves look amazing.  But it’s the moments in front of the pantry when everyone else goes to bed that really matter.

On the other hand, the reality is absolutely no one will know.

See if I continue to say that I am eating well but I show up a few weeks later plus about 10 pounds, it’s pretty clear that I am lying.  There is no way around that.

The same cannot be said of spiritual discipline.

As long as I read a chapter here and there, brush up on a recent Christianity today, eat my spiritual vegetables ‘once in a while’ publicly, everyone will think I am exceptionally healthy.

The only problem is, I am completely dying on the inside.

The Bible talks about producing fruit – that being the measure of a life a part of Christ.  Just like in the produce world, the proof is in the tasting.  At my house, directly across from where I type this my mother has a basket of pears.  They are well colored, shaped, and sized; incredibly pleasing to the eye.  Take a bite and you risk losing a tooth in the wood.

Spiritual fruit is no different.  I went to a Christian school; two of them actually.  I can produce fruit finer looking than most.  But just like with David, we serve a God who looks at the heart. 

This can either be the most beautiful music to our ears,


 the most condemning news for our souls.

In the end, I need to consume as much of the good stuff that I can.  Just like healthy things in our day-to-day lives (see also: Daniel), spiritual disciplines produce works in our life that bring glory to, and honor God; regardless whether other people observe them.  Additionally, these are the very things that draw me closer to the God who loves and knows me best. 

Because in the end, that late night poor decision only leaves me disappointed and with a stomach ache the next morning anyway.

No comments: