Join My Gym to Find Recovery?
Now the Spirit expressly says that in later times some will depart from the faith . . . who forbid marriage and require abstinence from foods that God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and know the truth. 1 Timothy 4:1-3
In my drug use I gained a lot of weight, eating terribly and embracing a sedentary lifestyle. In recovery now, I don’t live perfectly, but I generally make better eating choices and exercise regularly. My recovery is inevitably intertwined with my faith and so, for me, following God’s will means daily choosing a new lifestyle that is physically healthier than my old one. Making these better choices has been rewarding and so, in my success, it’s easy for me to want to impose this aspect of my faith and recovery on others. If you really want to find faith and recovery, you must quit sugar and join a CrossFit gym. Nowhere is this taught in the Bible, but it’s been important to me and so, it’s my nature to add it to the gospel. If I’m not careful, exercise and a healthy diet can become my gospel – or my salvation – at which point I’ve abandoned Christ, turning to aestheticism for my salvation.
This appears to be similar to the false teaching that Paul addressed in today’s passage. In it, he said that there are those who’ve departed from authentic faith by teaching that we are saved by avoiding marriage and certain foods. These false teachers appeared to not know they were on the wrong track – they thought they were promoting truth. They were deceived though, and abandoned salvation through Christ alone. Instead, they turned to asceticism, a severe self-discipline which avoided all forms of indulgence. They taught that to be saved from ourselves, we must deny ourselves all pleasure. Paul taught however, that God gave us marriage and food to be enjoyed appropriately when received with thankfulness from God. We’re saved through faith in Christ alone – not by anything we do or don’t do.
What’s the lesson for us? It’s easy to pile on inappropriate expectations of those who may be seeking God. Often, we ask people to look and act like we do before they come to know Christ. We dress, work, vote, speak, and act a certain way and so, we expect others to do the same if they want to be part of our church club. The point of faith though, isn’t to lead others to the Republican party or to our gym. It’s to lead people to a relationship with God through faith in Christ. That’s all. According to Paul, adding anything to the gospel is the same thing as departing from it.