Monday, January 02, 2012

Fatter but not Fitter

Wow - was I ever that thin?  Diane hasn't changed a bit, of course, but did they feed students at Elim Bible College in the early 1970's?  I think not.

One of the joys of my recovery from the awful pain of chronic pancreatitis is that I can now eat without agony. Great when you are celebrating Christmas but not so great when New Year comes.  Now I definitely feel the pinch as my belt asks 'are you sure about this?' and there is a lot less view of my feet than there used to be. I reckon I am not alone in this.  The millions spent on the Weight Watchers' advert on UK TV testify to the commonality of this problem.  We are all getting fatter - well many of us are - but are we getting any fitter?  The difference is down to an increase in the weight of accumulated fat and fluid as against the weight of muscle tissue.  The former makes flab whilst the latter is 'fab' (still thinking 1970's!).

Then, how about my faith?  Is it flabby and tired or growing in effective muscle-weight?  What causes muscle growth in the Kingdom of Heaven?  Well, I suppose, much the same as in every other human realm.  Exercise and diet, all part of a healthy lifestyle.  Wait a minute though, exercise hurts.  It only does your muscles any good, apparently, if it does hurt.  Maybe that's why the experiences we go through that cause us to grow spiritually are all the painful ones?  Diet is all a matter of self-control.  No easy answers there then, no matter what the adverts promise us.  So maybe a good diet for my faith requires similar self-control: taking care about what I watch, what I read and who I mix with.  Mmm.

I think churches need to ask similar questions.  Are we getting fatter or fitter?  If congregations grow at the expense of other surrounding churches then they may just be getting fat!  What they need is more muscle-weight.  People of robust faith exercising it more!  And doing so in an atmosphere of love and grace.

So - what about you this New Year?  Fatter or fitter?