The holidays are in full swing. It’s a time of joy and laughter, and for many of us, it is also a time of overeating and no exercise. According to a recent Associated Press article, “more than a third of U.S. adults are obese.”
With these statistics, however, you have to remember that medical professionals consider some obese whom we would not. I am sure the actual number of obese persons is much lower (especially “ministerially speaking”).
At the same time, while Oklahoma may fare better when it comes to avoiding many of the so-called “seven deadly sins,” such as envy and greed, when it comes measuring the results from sloth and gluttony, we consistently rank as one of the least healthy states in the nation.
What does this say about us, and what should Christians do about it? Now, I know what you’re thinking. “He is giving us a guilt trip about overeating right around the holidays!” Fear not, I, like you, will be lined up for seconds at Grandma’s house at Thanksgiving and reaching for the pumpkin pie.
I am not writing about body mass index scores or even our cholesterol levels, nor am I referring to having an attractive physique. Instead, I wish to draw our thoughts to God’s creation of these bodies. In Christianity, the body matters.
The Bible says mankind is made in God’s image (Gen. 1). Moreover, Jesus Himself, Who is the expressed image of the invisible God (Col. 1), came to Earth in our exact human form, and that same sacred body was gloriously resurrected. The Bible also says, “Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, Who is in you, Whom you have received from God? You are not your own” (1 Cor. 6:19).
Through the lens of Christianity, we find a balanced viewpoint of the body. In society, meanwhile, the views are all over the map. On the one hand, our health-obsessed culture has everyone running around trying to look like magazine models and cheat death through diet, exercise and pills. On the other, the sex-crazed culture tells us “It’s only our bodies” and gives license for pornography and other misuses of the body.
To go against this cultural tide, one Christian thinker coined the phrase “the theology of the body,” referring to the implicit moral components of living in the temple of the Holy Spirit. Yet sometimes we do not live that way.
While many Christians spurn activities like smoking, which would stain the temple of our body, we seem to have no hesitation stretching it. What is wrong about gluttony is the same thing that is wrong about other sins. Gluttony takes a normal, healthy appetite people have (in this case, enjoying food) and drives it to excess.
Likewise, sloth takes the virtue of leisure and rest to an extreme. The solution to this is not a fitness fad or a crash diet. It is learning to live a balanced, controlled life, which includes the dinner table. All of us will fail at this point, inevitably, and God is quick to forgive our weakness.
The holidays, though, offer a perfect time for each of us to think about how we are treating our body. Each day offers a new opportunity to live for Christ in a manner worthy of our calling. Surely this includes at the dinner table, as well.
“So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God” (1 Cor. 10:31).