Body By God – Getting to the Beginning.

February 29, 2008 at 3:58 pm 13 comments

This post at Big Fat Blog, and the article to which it links, made me wish that I could respond to garbage like this with a book of my own. If I could, this would be the introduction.

Getting to the Beginning

It can be a strange and exciting journey- the decision to make changes in your life that could lead to a healthier, stronger, more vibrant you. It can be a very emotional journey, as well. And the billion-dollar diet industry suggests to us that a healthier, stronger, more vibrant body is something many of us want, and many of us are willing to pay for.

One small corner of that diet industry markets “faith-based” diets. This makes sense. For many Christians, faith is at the very core of their lives, and touches all aspects of what they do. The problem with these is that they are diets. They focus on how to change the body through deprivation. They ignore several themes of Good News that run through the Christian Scriptures like a shining silver thread. They also are part of a billion-dollar industry. The Gospel of Christ, the Good News, is simply too good to share, and too good to come with a whopping “program fee” or “start-up package cost”. At the heart of the good news is Grace- a free and undeserved gift.

So here, free, is some Good News: You don’t need a diet. Not a faith-based diet, not a secular diet. Not a free diet, not a weekly-membership-fee-lifestyle. You don’t need a diet.

Maybe you will read that sentence and believe that I am crazy, or wrong, or simply that I don’t know you. “Look at me” you may respond, “Look at these thighs; of COURSE I need a diet”.

To get to the beginning, you need to be able to read, and believe that simple, Grace-filled phrase. You don’t need a diet. You don’t need to deny yourself the incredible abundance of good things that God has put on this earth. You don’t need to live with hunger in order to make yourself acceptable to God. You don’t need to divide the world into “good food” and “bad food”. And your value as a person: your value to God, your value to your community, and your value to yourself, cannot be determined by your clothing size.

You don’t need a diet.

Who am I to make a claim like that? Well, “the bible tells me so”.

Just to get to the beginning, let’s consider two passages that are widely regarded as being pretty central to the Christian message.

The first is the verse you’ll see held up at sporting events- the one that many Christians believe best encapsulates the Good News of God in Christ- and the also-important verse that follows. John 3:16-17.

“For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life. Indeed, God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.”

This phrase captures a few of those shining threads. God loves you, and wants good things for you. God’s love for you is about what God does- not what you do. And Jesus had a human body- its lumps, wrinkles, weakness and funny dangly bits were good enough for him. His human body, and its mortality, were what made it possible for Jesus to be crucified, to die, and to open for us all the way to eternal life. This body was not a coat that Jesus put on overtop of his true, Divine self in order to take it off at Golgotha. Jesus lived and died as one of us. Our bodies are what make us mortal, the central fact of human existence: we are dust, and to dust we shall return. The weakness of Jesus’ incarnate, human body- and the strength of God’s love for the world- is what gives us the hope of immortality. God loves these bodies, formed these bodies for us from clay, and wants us to offer these bodies back, in service to him.

Consider this second passage, from Mark: 12:28-33:

One of the scribes came near and heard them disputing with one another, and seeing that he answered them well, he asked him, ‘Which commandment is the first of all?’ Jesus answered, ‘The first is, “Hear, O Israel: the Lord our God, the Lord is one; you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.” The second is this, “You shall love your neighbour as yourself.” There is no other commandment greater than these.’ Then the scribe said to him, ‘You are right, Teacher; you have truly said that “he is one, and besides him there is no other”; and “to love him with all the heart, and with all the understanding, and with all the strength”, and “to love one’s neighbour as oneself”,—this is much more important than all whole burnt-offerings and sacrifices.’

Jesus here identifies what he sees as the core of the Old Testament, the books of the law and the prophets that comprised the scripture of the people of Israel. The first commandment is to love God “with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind, and with all your strength”. The body is not a separate entity from heart and soul and mind and strength. The body is where these things meet, where they dwell, where they interact, and how they encounter the rest of the world that God created. Diets are about diminishing the body, and getting rid of it. Diets are about diminishing the place where heart, and soul, and mind, and strength live.

The second commandment is to love your neighbour as yourself. Diets are about hating yourself- hating yourself enough to starve yourself, to deny yourself, to shrink yourself into less, to negate yourself. This is not the kind of love God calls us to offer to our neighbour.

You don’t need a diet.

What we all need is to love ourselves the way we try to love others- to truly want what is best for ourselves. And we want to have healthy bodies where spirit, mind, soul, and strength can connect, and can all be offered to God. Does your body matter? YES ABSOLUTELY. We, who love God, want to offer the very best of ourselves to God- and the very best of ourselves is found in a body that is well-nourished, well-cared for, and well-used. A body uniting a mind and heart and soul that know- this body is a beautiful part of God’s creation. A body that finds joy and celebration, and even worship, in movement and activity. A body that is fed with an abundance of good things from God’s good creation. A body that is the location for strong and loving relationships: with God, with others, with self.

Welcome to the beginning.

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13 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Liz  |  February 29, 2008 at 4:54 pm

    This is incredibly beautiful. Thank you so much for this post.

  • 2. apricotmuffins  |  February 29, 2008 at 5:10 pm

    thankyou thankyou thankyou thankyou!

    Thankyou for expressing this view so well and in response to such a horrifying abuse of the Christian faith.

    You said it better than I ever would have.

  • 3. HeyJules  |  February 29, 2008 at 5:11 pm

    You took the words right out of my mouth.

  • 4. Kay  |  February 29, 2008 at 5:23 pm

    Hear hear.

  • 5. Jen  |  February 29, 2008 at 5:58 pm

    This is a beautiful post. I hope you don’t mind if I link and share it with people. 🙂

  • 6. mrsmillur  |  February 29, 2008 at 6:01 pm

    Thanks, Jen.
    See above re: sharing good news. 😉

  • 7. Karen  |  February 29, 2008 at 7:01 pm

    Perfect.

  • 8. Becca  |  March 1, 2008 at 8:41 pm

    Thanks for this. Your blog is awesome.

  • 9. katiekind  |  March 4, 2008 at 9:07 pm

    What a wonderful blog you have! Thank you for sharing this thought, it’s a reminder I needed to hear. It seems very hard for women in our culture to get a good handle on this — even if our brains recognize the truth. *Sigh*

  • 10. Jeff  |  March 9, 2008 at 11:18 am

    I love your aritcle. While I agree with everything you said I have also read Dr. Lerner’s book and agree with most of what he has written. From my understanding, your eating habits are not supposed to be a hinderance, but enjoyed. You should glorify God throught your choice of food. Eat food that fuels your body, not poisons it. He calls attention to the person who does not eat healthy foods (me) and does not give God all the glory. I welcome your comments. jroberts410@yahoo.com

  • 11. Rachel  |  March 11, 2008 at 4:35 pm

    Amen.

  • 12. Body by God: In the Beginning « Ad Imaginem Dei  |  March 12, 2008 at 8:07 pm

    […] 12, 2008 This post has been percolating a while, since my last Body by God post, and fueled by conversation in the fatosphere about Girl Scout Cookies, and by Rachel’s […]

  • 13. Jazminej  |  March 24, 2008 at 7:22 pm

    favorited this one, guy

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