The Overweight and Out of Shape State
But we have renounced disgraceful, underhanded ways. 2 Corinthians 4:2
A couple of years ago, for our 20th wedding anniversary, my wife and I made a brief visit to a state that shall remain unnamed. In this particular locale, it appeared the diet consisted mostly of fried goods and cheesecake, which was apparent in the waistlines of those who lived there. We joked that in that environment, we looked like supermodels. Interestingly, being surrounded by those who were doing worse than us in the fitness department made it much easier to indulge in the cheesecake and fried foods. We weren’t inspired to live healthier, but rather we found ourselves reflecting the local behavior. We had to get out before we began to blend in too much.
We’ve had the opposite experience as well. We’ve visited places where it seemed that most of the locals must eat well and exercise every day. The spotlight that’s shown on our own inadequacies is uncomfortable, but the healthy living of others has inspired us to want to do better ourselves.
Often, the behavior we see around us becomes what we consider to be normal. If we spend every morning at the gym, daily exercise will become a way of life. If, however, we spend every night in a bar, then drinking to the point of intoxication may become normal. Usually, this principle seems to work against us as Christians, dragging us down, as we accept the behaviors of the old flesh nature that we see reflected in the lives around us.
In today’s passage, Paul reminded the Corinthian Christians of what they were supposed to be. It’s often frustrated me that Paul frequently spoke of the perfect Christian life as if it had already been done. We have done this . . . Looking at my own life, I’ve often realized that I’m not living up to Paul’s Christian ideal. I think that’s his point though. I think Paul saw how Christians everywhere struggled with following the old life and so, in today’s passage, he presented a reminder of what they were supposed to be.
I’ve often needed that. In my addiction, as I came to accept horrible, destructive behavior as normal, I needed to be reminded of what healthy, sober behavior looked like. In following my old life, I still often need to be reminded often of what the new life is supposed to look like. This can be painful, as the spotlight of truth highlights my own failures, but seeing success in others often inspires me to pursue it as well. Daily, I must choose to spend time with those who make me want to be better as I, in turn, strive to be an example for those watching me.