Fatty Culture

My wife tells me I’m fat on the inside.

I’m a thin guy. In fact, I have always struggled to put on weight (I know, cue the world’s smallest violin for the skinny guy that has it so rough). The truth of the matter is that I am relatively healthy and haven’t had any health problems. Yet. But I have sustained some pretty unhealthy eating habits until recently, and I exercise very little.

So the medical condition I suffer from is “fat on the inside.” I think that’s the clinical term.

The real issue is that I consume, and consume and consume food (some of which is terrible for me but so delicious) and don’t balance it with enough physical activity to use the energy the food supplies. I am just a consumer. In fact, that is the problem with all obesity in general (chemical/hormonal issues aside). At the risk of being simplistic, the issue with obesity is taking in more and more energy, but letting your physical activity level atrophy to death. Boil it down and it all comes down to calories in, calories out.

But this isn’t primarily about food.

I may be fat on the inside, but it’s not my only area of fatness. In fact, I’m a pretty fat guy all around.

I consume and consume on the internet and don’t spend nearly enough energy exercising the energy or knowledge that it gives me. I read news, I check my favorite blogs, and I read blog articles about effective blogging. But I don’t invest the energy I need to into contributing, writing and exercising. I check facebook repeatedly to “keep up with things.” I mindlessly hold my phone to my face as I surf around my favorite sites. In other words, I’m also a tech-fatty.

The result? Lethargy, and a tendency to copy whatever method out there seemed to “help” others get past their tech-fattiness. My connectedness causes a gap between what I want to get done and “researching” how to do it.

Why all this talk about being a fatty? Because I’m worried that I’m not alone, and that society is moving more and more toward being obese — not just physically — but being tech fatties and mental fatties and entertainment fatties.

There is a weird paradox around the information age. The more information we have at our fingertips, the less productive we seem to be with it. We talk about an article that discussed a study, rather than picking up some books and doing studies of our own. Mental fattiness in action.

We consume and consume and consume and never expel any of the fuel we receive. We store calories. We don’t exercise. We get fat in all kinds of different areas. We have become a fatty culture.

The bible has a word for this pattern. It’s called, “gluttony.”

Gluttony goes beyond food. It is a total lack of discipline in how you consume. It is “greedy or excessive indulgence,” according to Webster’s. And more and more it is a symptom of our culture’s ethos, a condemnation of the posh wealth that even this nation’s lower classes enjoy (in perspective of global poverty), much less those of us who don’t need to “struggle” to eat each day.

We have become a culture of gluttons. The fatty, salty and sweet flavors that were formerly mere morsels  now flood our food. So much so that much of our culture cannot stomach vegetables unless they are drenched in butter, or “southern-style” (soaked in sugar), or dipped in ranch dressing, or drizzled in velveeta. We have indulged in these flavor “treats” so much that they are now the new norm.

Cable packages have a bajillion channels, and TV viewing rises at alarming rates. Average home sizes have exploded in the last 50 years. Enough is never enough and I hereby confess that I am an all-around fatty in much of my life.

If this is so pervasive, what is it affecting that we don’t realize? Where else are we guilty of gluttony? Where else we might have a blind spot to our constant consumption and lack of exercise? Could it be that we have also become spiritual fatties? Could it be that we have been too worried about “what we are getting out of” church? Could it be that we have spent too long simply going to church to get?

The Gospel is inherently action-based, and yet church has become consumer-focused. Churches are in a race to have the hippest worship bands, the best coffee for service or the best atmosphere. Sounds more like a coffee shop than worshipping the all-powerful God of the Universe.

We go to worship where the pastor is the funniest or most captivating, or choose a church based on “what they have to offer.”

It’s time we stop consuming and start exercising some of what we have learned, putting action behind the spiritual calories that we come to church and take in. It is time for Christians to step up and see church as not a place to be served but a place to serve – a place to proclaim the gospel rather than to receive it.

What’s worst is that those regular attenders that are always in church are commended as being spiritually fit.

In reality they may be spiritually fat (at least on the inside).

It’s time to balance our spiritual diet and exercise.

How will you get some Spiritual Exercise this week?

Photo Credit: chotda via Compfight cc

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Not What Our Forefathers Had In Mind [Video]

There is nothing wrong with being wealthy.

There is nothing wrong with making a really great living.

But it feels like there is something wrong with a system that has allowed this:

Here are just a few thoughts that struck me as I watched this video.

Christians should find this unsettling

I would HOPE that this would make even the most conservative, capitalist, free-market Christian uncomfortable. I’m not a socialist by any means, and I think competition in an open market brings out better products. But to anyone claiming allegiance to Jesus, the disparity illustrated here should be unsettling. Our primary citizenship should be as members of the Kingdom of God, not Americans. We do hold citizenship in both realms, but check out what Luke 14 says:

If anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother, his wife and children, his brothers and sisters – yes, even his own life – he cannot be my disciple. And anyone who doesn’t carry his cross and follow my cannot be my disciple.

By comparison, Jesus’ disciples must put their love and allegiance in Him above all else. Jesus followers have a higher calling to view people with an extremely high regard. Seeing such a disparity should tug at our heartstrings, especially because the God we worship cares so much for the “least of these.”

The “next step up” never feels extravagant

Think about it. The level of the “top 1%” seems extravagant to those trying to “scrape by.” But they didn’t get there overnight. They just reached for the next income level, and then the next one. It only seem extravagant because it’s way out of your reach, but when you are knocking on the door of the next income level above you, does it seem extravagant?

To the person in a squalid hut in Africa, an apartment with running water is extravagant.

But to the person renting that apartment, owning a home (probably looking for more space) doesn’t seem extravagant at all.

It just seems like the next step.

No one thinks they are rich. The American Dream, that anyone in America can get as rich as possible any way possible is a sham. Greed drives this “next step up” mentality and causes us to be discontented with what we have. Studies have shown that we are living so far outside of our means that nearly everyone in America describes the perfect salary as about 40% more than what they currently make.

“If only I could afford _____________, then I would be able to relax.”

This is the dangling carrot that you’ll never catch.

To someone else, you are the one with “more”

There is always someone with more, but that means there is always someone with less. It is easy to sit on your high horse and say, “shame on all those rich people.” But here’s the real deal:

You are [almost certainly] not the lowest person on this chart.

There is someone with less than you. All of us can point to where the problem is and it never seems to be with us. Because we don’t think we have enough. We strive for that “comfortable” level, but it never comes. The way this cycle breaks is that we all need to work to break the strangle-hold possessions and money have on our hearts.

Give generously!

And when it starts to hurt, when we start to feel the pinch of giving, we need to give just a little more.

It’s time to debunk the lie that we are poor, and that we don’t have any flexibility in our income. It’s time to start looking out for those that have less than ourselves.

It’s time to let Christ make us generous people and let that be one of the things that sets us apart from the rest of the world.

What stood out in this video to you?

The Gospel Lived Out [Video]

As I write this, I am speechless. I have spent the last half hour crying my eyes out and this video was the last pebble holding up the dam. Check it out:

New Film Premiere – I Like Adoption. from ILikeGiving.com on Vimeo.

The video is from a new campaign called I Like Giving. The mission of the site is not to get more of your money, but to get more people thinking — and acting — generously.

This site is one of the purest and most beautiful applications of the gospel message I have seen in a long time.

So click here to learn more, or sign up to give the idea a 3-day trial run! As for me and my family, we are going to write our own “I Like _______.” story (watch the promo video or the “I like bike” video to learn where the name came from. I can’t wait to hear yours.

Do you already have an “I Like ________.” Story? Share it below!