Tuesday, August 23, 2011

The Body Gospel?

Ja! I am Hans and he is Franz and we're here to pump...you up like Sampson! Granted I don't live in muscle beach; but Surf City has its fair share of beach bodies, not all of whom are flattering and most of whom need to wear more clothing in public. But fear not you faint of heart when jogging. Let not your arms feel flabby. There's hope for you. Tired of the same old law? You know, the old routine of getting up and counting points; kicking your rump-roast with a little P90X and then feeling guilty when you snacked a bit around 3:00 in the afternoon? Well, you don't need the law anymore. No more jocks and oiled up Governator wannabes telling you what to do every morning. No, you are past the law. You need Beach Body Gospel.  Seriously, I wish I were making this up. It's the best new thing to come along for Christian fitness (whatever that is) since the pope of evangelicalism started the Daniel Plan or Christian pole dancing became a sad, tragic reality. No, I'm not kidding about that last one either. 

Now, I don't mean to poke fun at health issues. There are real, serious health problems in this country - including over-eating, weight issues, dietary and eating disorders. And of course a healthy diet, exercise, etc. are good things for any person to consider. As Christians we can even go so far to say that it is good stewardship of creation, of the body created by God. However, this is not the Gospel. Reminds me of something St. Paul once said in Galatians...

I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you to live in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel— which is really no gospel at all. Evidently some people are throwing you into confusion and are trying to pervert the gospel of Christ. But even if we or an angel  from heaven [or a visionary church leader or a diet guru or a well intended Christian or anyone] should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let them be under God’s curse! As we have already said, so now I say again: If anybody is preaching to you a gospel other than what you accepted, let them be under God’s curse!

This is what happens when felt needs take over the Church; she loses her identity (and so do her people) she loses her confession or trades it for another one and ultimately worships the creature rather than the Creator. And all the fat and fluff clouds the Gospel. It's like cholesterol in the arteries of the church. Don't stop the blood flow. Don't clog it with the trans fat of this world. Jesus' Word, Jesus' Baptism, Jesus' body and blood are the life of the Church. Jesus is enough. The cross is a stumbling block enough. We do ourselves no service in putting the law - i.e. Christian diet plans - where there is no law. And we do the Gospel no service when we mince words that have less to do with Christ Crucified for you and more about how you look walking the pier at Huntington Beach, or wherever it is you. Thank the good Lord for our daily bread. For our health and for a full and free salvation - no matter what you look like, no matter what your BMI is, no matter if you can fit in your high school jeans or not. The Gospel is not about what you do or don't drink that makes you a Christian; it's about the one who thirsted for you on the cross. The Gospel is not about what you do or don't eat, do or don't smoke but about the one who wouldn't even turn stones into bread so that he might smote the ruin of the ancient serpent, first in the wilderness and then on Good Friday. The Gospel is not about fancy fads and diet plans but the Jesus in the Eucharist - the give thanks as we receive our daily bread in Jesus' body and blood, meal. You can't eat enough at Jesus' table. Gluttonous forgiveness is Jesus' way of things. Thank God he still loves to eat and drink with tax collectors and sinners. For the Gospel is not how good you look standing before the mirror but how - in Christ, covered in the blood of Jesus, saved by His all sufficient sacrifice on the cross, baptized, fed, and forgiven - you look (and you are) perfect before our Father who is in heaven. You are clothed in Christ because Christ was sent to take on our human bodies - flesh of our flesh and bone of our bone - frailties and all and go to the cross. Because unlike the Body Gospel - this Gospel really does save you...here and now and forever. And it won't cost you 2 monthly payments of $39.95. Jesus has already paid your way into a perfect glorified body in the resurrection of the dead and the life everlasting with his own body broken on the cross.

And now for something completely different...

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