Life must be better-than-average at this moment in time, because at the top of my consciousness is the “problem” of giving up something for Lent. I intend to avoid food products with added sugar.
I love Necco Wafers and cotton candy and chocolate cake and Atomic Fireballs, and pralines, and…well, you get the picture.
Two years ago, I gave up sugar for Lent and did fairly well. My goal was to make a permanent reduction in my sugar consumption, and it worked…for a couple of weeks after Easter. Soon, I was back to my old habits, and I had to face the hard, cold fact that I exert little self-control when it comes to sugary products.
After the morning resolve to eat less sugar, later in the day, I often find myself very “foodhappy” but totally disgusted at my weakness for eating many cookies or something similar and not even realizing it as I eat. This is a terrible habit. Some might call it gluttony!
Plus, clearly, too much sugar consumption exacerbates a long list of medical problems. In true “geek-like” fashion, I even keep a list of them on our fridge to remind me of what I am doing to my body.
Thus, in preparation for Lent, and hopefully always, today I started - once again - to cut back on my sugary food consumption. Success is going to require some serious prayer time and conscious effort to do what is best for my physical self.
I also remembered there was something in the Bible about not doing harm to one’s body, so a little research ensued. What I found may or may not apply to my jumbo box of Raisinettes (big shock), but it is food (!) for thought.
Twenty years or so after Jesus was crucified, Paul wrote letters to the Christian Corinthians in which he answered their questions, examined what about their beliefs was right or wrong, and so forth.
In I Corinthians 6:19-20, Paul tells the Corinthians that their bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit which were bought with a price. Thus, the Corinthians must glorify God with their bodies.
Paul continues about various similar topics until he gets to a discussion of what kind of food is acceptable to eat…almost anything, evidently, as long as it was not meant as part of idol worship…and Paul remarks in I Corinthians 10:31, “So whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God” (NIV).
That wording stopped me in my tracks. My sugary food habit certainly does NOT reflect the glory of God. It reflects only my greedy desire for instant gratification. Perhaps I need another sign on the refrigerator.
And by the way, if you see me at church, feel free to ask me if I’m still eating for the glory of God.
Written by Becky
“I’d like you to meet my better half.”
This is how my husband tends to introduce me to his friends and co-workers. I have to admit, it makes me smile every time, though I feel wholly unworthy of this distinction.
See, I knew even before I officially met him that my husband was a special guy. I remember seeing him - Sunday after Sunday - seated next to his grandmother in a front pew and being amazed. I mean, how many twentysomethings do you see at church, let alone at church with their grandmothers?
I’m all the more amazed that in the 3+ years since I first laid eyes on the back of this man’s head he’s continued to exemplify biblical love (1 Corinthians 13:4-13).
Biblical love is patient. I know I must at times be difficult to be around, especially when I allow a bad mood to hijack my personality. But rather than run or hide from this abrasive version of me, my husband draws close. "What’s wrong?" "Is there anything I can do?"
Biblical love is kind. When I get home from work, I kick my shoes off at the door, scatter the (literal and figurative) baggage of the day throughout the apartment - purse on the floor, coat on the couch, lunch bag on the kitchen counter - and, though I’m certain my doing so drives him crazy, my husband asks me about my day while putting my dirty lunch dishes in the sink and quietly returning my lunch bag to its home on the top of the fridge.
Biblical love is not self-seeking. Any opportunity he has - and you’d be amazed by how many each day offers - my husband defers to me and my preferences. "What do you want to watch on TV?" "Where would you like to eat?"
It is without a doubt a great blessing to be on the receiving end of such a love, but I am doubly blessed because in receiving such a love I desire to reciprocate and extend that love to others.
Written by Whitney
Something I think is really important is loving all people. Even if they are really annoying and drive you crazy. You don't have to want to always hang out with someone to want to love them.
Though I think this is important, many other people don't feel the same way. They say we shouldn't love people who don't believe in God. We should pray for them but not love them. Well, my question is: What about the people who never learned about God or the people who have never had anyone to love them? Because if Jesus loved them, shouldn't we? Don't get me wrong, I think praying for these people is good, but I don’t think that is enough. Why shouldn't we love them?
Jesus himself taught us to “love your neighbor as yourself.” In fact, He said that “there is NO commandment greater” than this one (Mark 12:31, emphasis added). So people who aren't Christians or who sin all the time aren’t our neighbor? Because I think they are. And it is not our place to judge others for what they did wrong; we should love them instead. Jesus loved everyone. He is our main example to follow. Jesus loved the people that no one else did. He sat and ate with the prostitutes and tax collectors, who were literally the most hated people in town.
In 1 Peter, it says that our love has to be “unfailing” (1 Peter 4:8), or constant, for other people so that sin isn't an obstacle to seeing the best in them. I think if you want to see the best in people that means you must love them. Also, in 1 Corinthians chapter 13, Paul told the people that to be righteous, which means morally right, they had to have three things:
But Paul specifically states that the most important one is love. Earlier in chapter 13, he goes into major detail on what love is and how one could achieve it (1 Corinthians 13:3-8; also mentioned in Romans 12:9-13).
If loving people wasn't so important, why would it be mentioned so many times in the Bible? So if this is what love demands of us, how are you living this out?
Written by Sarah
The first day of school. Graduation. A marriage. Buying a home. Turning 30.
For just as the body is one and has many members, and all of the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ.
Our great hope is that the stories shared here - stories written by people who stumble, face struggles, and make mistakes as they navigate life - will illustrate the value of the diversity of the church and the unity that is possible in Christ, as described in 1 Corinthians 12:12, this blog's namesake.
Written by Whitney
The 12:12 Project is sponsored by Katy First United Methodist Church.