Body and Weight

By Staff Writer

Categories: Gospel of Luke, Health, Identity, Paul, Personal Growth and Progress

Did you make a New Year's resolution that had something to do with your body, weight, or overall appearance? It wouldn't be surprising if you did. The media targets youth with "model" images that somehow make many of us feel inadequate

Indeed, the media suggests that our appearance affects our social life. As a result, we struggle to mold ourselves to fit in with our peers while simultaneously trying to express our individuality. The whole focus on the body--counting calories, cholesterol, and fat; being a slave to the gym or the mirror--is emotionally and physically draining. It absorbs our thought and takes our focus away from who can really help us-God.

Christ Jesus instructs us:

Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment? (Matt. 6:25)

Note: he didn't say it was all right to think a little bit about body; he said, "Take no thought" regarding food and clothes. What a relief! We don't have to worry about our figure or build. We don't have to stress about whether or not we need to lose or gain weight. We don't have to let the media or our peers influence us. We don't have to let our weight determine if we're happy or frustrated. We do have to trust God. Christ Jesus compassionately assures us that God takes care of our every need. Indeed, God knows our needs before we ask.

How do we develop a trust in God so that God is the central focus of our lives? The apostle Paul provides helpful ideas in his letter to the church at Corinth:

We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord. (II Cor. 5:8)

First, we have to be "confident" in our ability to trust in God and be "confident" in God's ability to take care of us. Quite honestly, regardless of whether or not we are confident in God, God is always taking care of us. Confidence in God just makes us happier.

Next, we have to be "willing" to do two things—

  1. to be absent from the body,
  2. and to be present with the Lord.

The word "willing" means that we're "ready, enthusiastic, eager, psyched" (Rodale's Synonym Finder). Using these synonyms, we're eager to be away from the body and ready to be with God.

  1. If we're "absent," we're simply not there. Right? So, in order "to be absent from the body," we can't be preoccupied with how we look, what we weigh, or what we're going to eat for dinner. Rather, we must enthusiastically let go of worried, anxious, and condemning thoughts about our bodies, ourselves, or others. We must eliminate self-centered or egotistical thinking and persistent talking about the body. Letting go gives us room for more balanced views of ourselves.
  2. If we're "present," we're right there with God 100%. We give our full attention to God. We shift the balance of thought from body to God by aligning ourselves with God absolutely and completely. We become God-centered rather than self-centered. This requires a great sense of humility, willingness to listen to God's direction and guidance, and obedience to follow His commands.

We have a choice to make-right now and every moment of our lives: to be present with the body or with God. If we are present with the body, then we are absent from God. We may ask ourselves: Do I want to be absent from God? No. God is my Best Friend. God is my Parent. God is my constant help. I don't want to distance myself from God's ever-present love, protection, and guidance.

Once we decide to be present with God, then all else will fall away-yes, even pounds. The desire to satisfy our taste buds, to eat over a bad break-up or a bad grade will simply disappear. We will stop thinking about immediately gratifying ourselves and will start thinking about how to glorify God. If we are glorifying God, our experience (and our bodies) can't help but change for the better. As we are more loving towards God's children (our peers, teachers, family members, selves), as we move thought away from ourselves and towards others, we will find that our relationships will become stronger and purer. Our social life does not depend upon our physical appearance; rather, it depends upon our spiritual nature-the quality of our characters.

Practical Tips for gaining better control of your thinking and body. Help remind yourself of the practical tips below by posting them on your mirrors, frig, cupboards, and doors.

  • Each time you go to the mirror, think of 5 good things about who you really are, such as: I am beautiful/handsome. That's the way God made me. God can't be less than beautiful; therefore, I am beautiful-inside and out.
  • Don't make negative comments about yourself or your body. This is important because our thoughts determine our experience. If we keep saying how ugly or fat we are, we'll get upset and be depressed and frustrated.
  • Remember, the mirror doesn't define who we are. It may show us how we're dressed, but it doesn't begin to show us the inner beauty, goodness, unselfishness, or kindness that we have.
  • Post a note on your refrigerator that says: Stop. Think. Exercise control. Am I hungry? Do I need this? Will eating this satisfy me? What would God have me do or eat? God is the true source of my satisfaction. If you're not hungry, don't open the frig.
  • If you're tempted to eat because you're bored, upset, frustrated, then turn to God right then and there to satisfy whatever need you may have at that moment. If you still feel that you want something, and you know you're not hungry, pray and pray some more.

Bible Passages that Address the Topic of Body

King James Version
This is the King James' version of Luke's account of one of the most well known teachings of Christ Jesus that addresses the topic of body. The same ideas can also be found in what is known as the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 6:25-34.

As you read what Christ Jesus instructed us to do, look for these main ideas and see how they can help you gain a greater sense of balance or satisfaction in your life:

  • Don't worry. God will take care of everything you need-clothes, food, money, etc. Worrying won't solve a thing.
  • God loves you infinitely more than you could imagine. Look at the symbols around you, and you'll get a glimpse of God's omnipotence.
  • Seek God first, and the rest will follow.

Luke 12: 22-32
Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat; neither for the body, what ye shall put on. The life is more than meat, and the body is more than raiment. Consider the ravens: for they neither sow nor reap; which neither have storehouse nor barn; and God feedeth them: how much more are ye better than the fowls? And which of you with taking thought can add to his stature one cubit? If ye then be not able to do that thing which is least, why take ye thought for the rest? Consider the lilies how they grow: they toil not, they spin not; and yet I say unto you, that Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. If then God so clothe the grass, which is to-day in the field, and to-morrow is cast into the oven; how much more will he clothe you, O ye of little faith? And seek not ye what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink, neither be ye of doubtful mind. For all these things do the nations of the world seek after: and your Father knoweth that ye have need of these things. But rather seek ye the kingdom of God; and all these things shall be added unto you. Fear not, little flock; for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom.

The Message
The following excerpt is from The Message by Eugene H. Peterson. Luke's account of one of the most well known teachings of Christ Jesus address the topic of body. The same ideas can also be found under the heading of "A LIFE OF GOD-WORSHIP" (from what is commonly known as the Sermon on the Mount) in The Message Matt. 6:25-34.

As you read what Christ Jesus instructed us to do, look for these main ideas and see how they can help you gain a greater sense of balance or satisfaction in your life:

  • Don't worry. God will take care of everything you need-clothes, food, money, et cetera. Worrying won't solve a thing.
  • God loves you infinitely more than you could imagine. Look at the symbols around you, and you'll get a glimpse of God's omnipotence.
  • Seek God first, and the rest will follow.

Also:

  • Notice how Peterson's translation addresses fashion, captures what people do in front of mirrors, and highlights the difference between "getting" and "giving."
  • Think about what Peterson's title of this Bible passage means.

The Message Luke 12:22-32
STEEP YOURSELF IN GOD-REALITY

"Don't fuss about what's on the table at mealtimes or if the clothes in your closet are in fashion. There is far more to your inner life than the food you put in your stomach, more to your outer appearance than the clothes you hang on your body. Look at the ravens, free and unfettered, not tied down to a job description, carefree in the care of God. And you count far more.

"Has anyone by fussing before the mirror ever gotten taller by so much as an inch? If fussing can't even do that, why fuss at all? Walk into the fields and look at the wildflowers. They don't fuss with their appearance--but have you ever seen color and design quite like it? The ten best-dressed men and women in the country look shabby alongside them. If God gives such attention to the wildflowers, most of them never even seen, don't you think he'll attend to you, take pride in you, do his best for you?

"What I'm trying to do here is get you to relax, not be so preoccupied with getting so you can respond to God's giving. People who don't know God and the way he works fuss over these things, but you know both God and how he works. Steep yourself in God-reality, God-initiative, God-provisions. You'll find all your everyday human concerns will be met. Don't be afraid of missing out. You're my dearest friends! The Father wants to give you the very kingdom itself.

"Scripture quotations from THE MESSAGE. Copyright (c) by Eugene H. Peterson 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002. Used by permission of NavPress Publishing Group."

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