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Friday, August 31, 2012

Lessons on a Diet

I think I have arrived. No, not in godliness. Or much of anything else, really. Let me explain. I carry around a bit too much weight. For years now I've been working on decreasing that problem. You know, increase exercise, decrease intake, watch what you eat, more healthy, less fatty, less sugar, more vegetables, "watch it now ... you might like something and that's likely bad for your diet!" -- that kind of thing. Count calories? Check. Increase fiber? Check. Decrease carbs? Check. Add to this certain medical conditions that have, of late, served to cut me off from other foods that I like such as strawberries or nuts, and I think I'm finally at the point that all diets hope you get to. I don't care. Feed me whatever.

Imagine, for a moment, a lineup of foods. On one end are all the tastiest morsels. On the other end are the items without flavor. At various points along that line are items I might like. You know ... everyone's taste varies. As everyone with any sense knows, the items over there on the "tastiest" end are, almost entirely without exception, bad for you. They're sugary or fatty or too something or other, and it is this that makes them so good, but they're not good for you. Cut those out. Now you've a list of things you still might like and a few things closer to that "tasty" end that still remain that you can have sparingly. Shift diets, and that list decreases. Now you have fewer things you will eat and almost none of the things you actually enjoy. That's the aim of all diets. Eliminate your genuine pleasure in eating and eventually you'll stop eating the stuff you like. You know, anything that's bad for you. That's where I am. Everything I like is off my diet, so I've arrived at the point of "It's mealtime -- tell me what I'm eating and I'll consume it on command. Don't ask if I enjoyed it. Pointless question."

I wonder, then, if this ought also not be the aim of all of life. In diets, it's those personal delights in food that get us into trouble. If you can get to the point that it doesn't matter anymore, you are satisfied with much less. It seems like it's our personal pleasures that get us into trouble in life. If you could learn to not enjoy anything anymore (primarily by putting an end to anything you enjoy), well, then, you'd be satisfied with much less. And isn't that a good thing?

I am, of course, kidding. I don't mean it. I'm joking about how bad dieting is. Or ... am I? Consider this. The reason I have arrived at this point in eating is because the value of reaching a healthy weight has exceeded the value of enjoying what I eat. Therefore, I am not without value. My values have changed. So consider Paul's words.
I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish in order that I may gain Christ, and may be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own derived from the Law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which comes from God on the basis of faith, that I may know Him, and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death (Phil 3:8-10).
Now, wait a minute! Isn't that what I'm doing with my eating? In view of the surpassing gain of getting to a healthy weight, I count the rest of eating as loss. And in life, in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ, we should count all things as loss. We are "strangers and exiles on the earth" (Heb 11:13), "knowing that you have for yourselves a better possession and an abiding one" (Heb 10:34).

So, maybe I'm not as far off as I sounded. Maybe, if I find myself so enamored with Christ, the pleasures of this world become meaningless to me in view of the surpassing joy of knowing Him. Minimizing the value of "tasty food" has the effect of easing the pain of dieting. Decreased value in the things of the world in favor of increased value in Christ ought to go a long way toward the work of leading a godly life unencumbered by the things that entangle us. You know, like it says in Hebrews 12:1-2. No, maybe not so far off after all.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

"Would you like whipped cream on the frappuccino?" asks the Starbucks cashier. My answer is always, "Yes."

I was lean up to about age 40, and then the paunch started. Fast food is a temptation.

If you ever find yourself near Camelback and Miller Road during the noon hour, stop at the Arby's and look for a pair of white-haired gentlemen sitting at a booth. They often have a Bible. One reads from it, and the other provides exegesis. Sometimes they get onto the topic of politics. They are not fans of Obama. :-}

I could see you inviting yourself to join them in conversation. They have been there about half the time I have been there, over the last month.