Weight Loss is a Lot Like Sanctification

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Over the last three years of being a pastor (as an intern and ordained) I’ve lost about eighty pounds—and all in front of people who see me changing week to week to week. And yet, for most of those three years, it hasn’t been something we talk about. Most of the time, people are afraid to bring it up while all I want to do is dance and say, “Look at me!” Sadly,
in my walk with Christ, there are times when all I want to say is, “Listen to this!” but I don’t, out of the same kind of fear.

Body issues are an undeniably important part of our human experience and interaction with one another. Yet, we don’t have a healthy vocabulary with which to do it. In fact, I think it’s similar to our inability to talk about the good work of sanctification that the Spirit is doing within each of us: we don’t want to draw attention to the fact that we judged or noticed the shortcomings of the “sinner” or “fat” person; we don’t know how to be honest about our motives for changing to a healthier lifestyle just as we don’t know how to express what Christ has done for us; we don’t know how to invite others into the daily dying and rising of our sanctification or the daily burn of our calories beyond an accountability partner to keep us on the straight and narrow.

As pastors, each week we stand in front of God’s people and proclaim God’s word for those he loves. The Word is our constant, as we, the messengers, change week to week to week. We change physically, we change mentally, we change spiritually, because we are being sanctified! Hallelujah! But are we failing to see our changing as God’s message lived?  Does my weight loss really have anything to do with what God has in mind for me and my witness to him in this world?

You can replace weight loss with any sort of physical change you are trying to build into (or out of) your life. I’m learning that when people ask their pastors to share more of themselves in the pulpit, my public transformation is an unavoidable way to display God-at-work with the family of faith. Just as each Sunday I am encouraged by the faces I see sitting in the pews, knowing what they have endured because they have invited me into their lives, my prayer is that they are encouraged not only by God’s word that I bring, but by my life and testimony.

But that means taking a risk. Because it’s been three years, and I’m still not at my goal weight. I’ve been a Christian for most of my time here on earth, and there are still areas that I fail to cement the changes the Spirit has brought. And sometimes, that old doubt of whether or not people would look at me with disgust and disappointment if they really knew my weight, or my sinful struggles, plants itself front and center in my brain. We’re going to plateau and fail sometimes, and it stinks that we have to do that so publicly.

But Jesus gave his whole self over to the ministry of our reconciliation, didn’t he? And the world called that cross a failure, didn’t it? I can’t think of a more public display of God-at-work than Jesus’ death and resurrection. So why am I so afraid to shed a few more pounds or share how the Spirit’s turned my heart upside down?

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Participant

Thank you, Chelsea, for this insightful post.  I, too, want to see ongoing transformation in my life because that's what the Holy Spirit does and in order to encourage the congregation...  Yet I don't want it to be too obvious!  What if I let them (and myself!) down?  What if it's perceived as showing off?  And what about those areas I'd prefer not to see transformed because I'm comfortable with the status quo?  May God bless us as we appropriately display and share how He's at work in us!  ~Stan

Participant

Bless your hearts...  beautiful insights, I sense hearts/spirits being stirred with His Spirit...

When we share the good things, aka testimonies, of what  He is doing in our lives, we are reflecting Him, His light... 

I have found sharing His stories of what He's doing in my life does 2 things, one encourages those around me who are struggling themselves and hungry for more of Him, or gives me insight to pray on behalf of someone when they are "critical" in some way.  It makes me double check myself as well, to make sure there isn't a valid concern.  

I love Miss Martha, she's practical, industrious and diplomatic, and I can totally relate to her "plea" in Luke 10:40... she was distracted with much serving aka a lot of work, very busy... then says to Jesus... "don't You care... (that I'm doing all this work alone, no one's helping me)"  classic pity party...  the enemy loves to isolate us and make us feel like we are the only ones struggling with something or doing anything about some injustice or whatever it might be...  so when we share our testimonies, it breaks that deception that we are the only ones who struggle with whatever issue it is, and instead connect on a deeper level.  hope that makes sense..

let us draw near to Him with a true heart in full assurance of faith (Hebr. 10:22a) 

Chelsea,

 

Warm greetings.  Thanks for this insightful, well-written piece.  I was blest--deeply.

 

Dale Cooper

Participant

I just read the testimony from Robin Mark, the musician who composed of Days of Elijah of how that song came to be (btw, "he" wrote/composed it in about 30 minutes-see link for full testimony).  It confirmed the struggle that we can feel alone and isolated some times, as Elijah, who felt  "alone and isolated" after his "battle" with the enemy on Mt. Carmel.    This is a  common attack from the enemy, particularly after we have experienced a powerful move of God.  So let's continue to encourage each other as we follow His leading and guidance, through the testimonies of how He works through our obedience in response to His promptings...  every glimpse we see of believers growing in their faith, in their relationship with Jesus, is very significant, and incredible encouragement to each other.  It is food for our souls, and fire for our prayers. 

from Robin's testimony:

I felt in my spirit that He replied to my prayer by saying that indeed He was very much in control and that the days we were living in were special times when He would require Christians to be filled with integrity and to stand upI for Him just like Elijah did, particularly with the prophets of Baal. “These are ‘Elijah’ days”. Elijah’s story is in the book of Kings and you can read how he felt isolated and alone in the culture in which he lived. But God told him to stand up and speak for Him. 

http://psalm2004.com/2009/04/24/days-of-elijah/ 

and as our pastor shared this morning," if you are moving in His Spirit, you are desperate for encouragement"...