When you look around an average Christian congregation (it depends a bit on the denomination). Well let me rephrase that; If you looked around in any given Christian congregation before COVID, you would notice that the obesity pandemic predominantly attacking the developed world, does not stop at religious lines. Many of us haven’t been able to look around a fully packed church in a long time.
Watching a YouTube video, I ones heard a very fit fifty something explain that disease is nature’s way of testing us and subsequently culling the unfit. A seemingly constant harsh reality.
Looking at the numbers, it is clear that those who struggle with maintaining a healthy weight have more trouble surviving a COVID infection.
Fitness in popular culture
In our previous article we touched on the fact that the television programs following people on a weight loss journey, most often are not really focused on trying to help their participants to reach their goal in a healthy way. Their true motivation dictates methods which arguably make good television, but is exploitive in nature.
When our Lord Jesus in Matt. 5: 13 – 20 said that we are the salt of the earth, we mostly understand that to be meaning the function of our spiritual lives representing God’s way of thinking in the world. No doubt that this is true, but what if there is more?
What if it means that we are meant to be examples in every way? Spiritual, mentally and physically.
Health as a means to spread the gospel
Going back to the fact that the average Christian isn’t characterized by an above average health/fitness, we might be slacking in one of our duties as “the salt of the earth”. Wouldn’t it be something if when someone comes across one of us in the street, and just by looking at us would wonder if we are Christian.
The route to a healthy weight for a Christian should look a lot different from that which is advertised in those weight loss programs we “enjoy” on television. First of all as Christians we should always be mindful of the fact that overcoming difficulty in our lives is a multidimensional process. A process that starts in the spirit, reshapes the mind and who’s state manifests in the physical world. And processes take time.
True knowledge on health vs entertainment
Remarkable is the fact that the road to a healthy weight, when done correctly to achieve a sustainable result without ill effects, is practically the complete opposite of what is shown in the abovementioned TV shows.
In these TV shows, the goal is get these people to a healthy weight as quickly as possible. While this seem to be a good thing. We highlighted in the previous article that the motivation behind this has nothing to do with the health of the person in question and can certainly come with adverse effects. Sustainable weight loss requires fundamental changes in your life, which begin in the mind (Rom 12:2).
Health in the Christian community
These changes are where the supportive Christian community, which one is part of, comes in. This approach is in stark contrast to the classic tough love version used when whipping overweight people back into shape. The community constantly immerses the brother or sister in an environment which exposes them to different/better lifestyle choices without judgement.
This is a gradual process without a focus on the duration, but on a consistent immersive environment (Philippians 4:8). And while it makes good television to let overweight people run, jump and pump, to help them sweat all that excess weight off, the much less sexy healthy eating has a much greater effect on weight control. An estimated 80% to put a number on it. Of course this is not to say that increasing how much you challenge your body has no role to play in your journey.
Health as a form of obedience
So summarizing, the route to a healthy weight starts with obedience to our Lord and Creator. He gave us a body to work with while we are on this earth, and it is our responsibility to keep it in the best condition possible. Yes, this will make it look good and attractive, but most importantly because there is a powerful spiritual dimension to physical health.
We Christians are communicating the Gospel in more ways than we realize. We communicate it with our actions towards our fellow man and creation in general, but also those towards ourselves specifically. How we treat our body, that part of creation we have a most intimate relationship with is also a testimony.
The moment we therefor realize that we have gone astray, the road to health is a restorative process which will take time. Time which will be used to heal the connection with the Creator. Looking at the diametrical differences between what the “world” is trying to impose on our minds as the way to health and the system which is all-present in the Word, we see that they are a negative reflection of each other.
The role the Christian community has to play on this road back to health can’t be overstated. Without the support of a community which provides the constant immersion in the new way of living, it is an even harder journey.
In the next article we will focus on the diet chances which facilitate regaining health from obesity.