Saturday, April 25, 2015

Adventures in Gluttony, Part One

Last Sunday our pastor announced that he was going to risk offending everyone in the congregation by preaching about the dangers of various things -- including Facebook. That certainly is something that might step on many toes, although I don't think most people in my church are on Facebook. And -- speaking for myself, but imagining that I am not unique -- I ponder often about the dangers of various social media. In other words, he didn't tell me anything I didn't already know (at least about Facebook).

No, I thought -- if offending the maximum number of congregants is your goal you need to preach about gluttony.

Again -- I'm speaking for myself, and I haven't discussed this with anyone, but I cannot imagine I am alone in my response to the idea of gluttony. My knee-jerk reaction is anger: inevitably when I see an article or blog post on gluttony (which I do not read!) the author looks to be someone of normal weight. Or someone who "struggles" to lose that last ten pounds (boo hoo). Gluttony seems to be a sin preached against by folks with specks in their eyes directed to folks carrying around logs in their eyes, thighs, and dress size. (Note that I don't have this reaction when someone who is not a drinker preaches against alcoholism. Funny, that.)

I am pretty sure I don't understand gluttony (how could I when I've scrupulously avoided reading anything about it?). The dictionary definition provides no comfort: "excessive eating and drinking." Well, okay then. Who decides what is "excessive"? I see skinny people eating their weight in pie, but they remain svelte, so is "excessive" a moving definition? Is it only excessive if you can't fit into a size 10? And why is eating a pint of Ben & Jerry's a sin anyway (assuming it is)?

The other day I heard someone say (or maybe I read it) that we don't really hate sin. I've thought about that a lot since then and can only come to the sad realization that it's a true statement. Of course we hate SOME sins -- the big and obvious ones like child abuse or murder. But we cherish OUR sins, our pet sins, whether they're laziness or impatience or (dare I say it?) gluttony. We love them and we nurture them and when someone mentions them we get defensive as though we were guarding our children. Or -- at least -- we pretend we don't suffer from that particular sin (and we may even fool ourselves into believing it's true!).

So I decided to face gluttony square on. If anyone commits that sin it is likely to be me, after all. I am probably excellent at it -- a master glutton, if you will. And my desire -- my fervent prayer -- is to hate the sin I find in myself and to live experiencing the reality that Christ has broken the bonds of sin and I don't have to wallow in it anymore.

I just finished reading the book of Leviticus. If you don't think God takes sin seriously it's a good place to start. God is so serious about sin that He requires a blood sacrifice to atone for it -- to turn away His wrath, to satisfy His justice, to restore communion with Him. Leviticus deals in minute detail about how sacrifices were to be carried out -- for what reason, when, how. And, of course, all of that was only a temporary and ineffective means of atonement, all pointing toward the once-for-all sacrifice of Christ's perfect offering of Himself.

Therefore, I know (I am trying to know, I want to know) how seriously God considers sin. How it destroys our fellowship with Him, how it hurts us spiritually, physically, emotionally, intellectually, and spills over to even affect those around us.

Time, then, to face the concept of gluttony, to attempt to understand what it really is, to confess it, to repent of it, and to stop doing it -- whatever "it" is. I'm doing a study of it and I'd love to share what I learn.

More later...

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