Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Jesus & the Atkins Diet

"Jesus declared, 'I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty.'" (John 6:35, NRSV)

Jesus claimed to be the bread of life. Both John Wesley and Adam Clarke interpreted this to mean that Jesus is the One who has and who gives life. Ultimately, all of our piety must be focused on and toward Jesus, or we are not partaking of worthwhile food.

Last year, the excellent documentary "Super Size Me" demonstrated what happens when someone lives on McDonald's for 30 days. The results weren't surprising: dramatic weight gain, higher blood pressure, loss of libido, lethargy, fatigue, failure to think clearly, lost productivity, etc. If we fill up on "junk" all the time, our bodies pay the price.

Trying to lose weight, some folks will grab onto the latest fad diet plans. You know what? They usually work!

Several years ago, weight loss guru Gwen Shamblin came up with the "Weigh Down Workshop", a "faith-based" plan to lose weight. Some time later, when consulted about theological concerns over her church and her program, Shamblin famously said, "People don't care about the Trinity; they just want to lose weight." (Incidentally, she still denies the Doctrine of the Trinity on her website!) So...Shamblin's program can result in weight loss, but is still not perfect!

Perhaps no other diet program has been as popular in recent years as the "Atkins Diet". Basically an anti-carbohydrate program, the Atkins Diet requires one to basically give up bread.

Does it work? Yes! People lose weight! Why? Because they're essentially starving themselves!

What an analogy for the Bread of Life! The problem in the contemporary Church isn't whether or not we're relevant (as if the Gospel could ever be irrelevant)...it's that the Church is in the midst of a severe famine. We are starving ourselves because we are not partaking of the Word of God (with a capital W...Jesus) or the word of God (with a lowercase w...the Bible).

We need a little more Jesus; heck, a lot more Jesus. The Church has been seeking to trim down and look a bit more acceptable to the world, via a spiritual Atkins Diet in which we forgot things like...

"Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God...

"You are the salt of the earth; but if salt has lost its taste, how can its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything, but is thrown out and trampled under foot...

"If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away; it is better for you to lose one of your members than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away; it is better for you to lose one of your members than for your whole body to go into hell...

"I say to you, Do not resist an evildoer. But if anyone strikes you on the right cheek, turn the other also...

"Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust consume and where thieves break in and steal; but store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust consumes and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also...

"Everyone then who hears these words of mine and acts on them will be like a wise man who built his house on rock...And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not act on them will be like a foolish man who built his house on sand."

"Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect..."
(from Matthew 5-7, NRSV)

Difficult, to be sure. C.S. Lewis portayed Jesus as a lion, but reminded us also that he is not a tame lion. Jesus calls for a complete rejection of "self". Our old ideas need to be tossed out in favor of Jesus' radical call. The Church needs to spend more time with Jesus, more time contemplating and acting upon the demands that faithfulness entails, more time in deep prayer and confession of sins, more time seeking the face of Jesus in our neighbors and in "the least of these" in our midst.

The spiritual Atkins Diet needs to go, and we need to taste again the Bread of Life, for only Jesus can fill us and make us complete.

1 comment:

Brett said...

Good post