Monday, January 30, 2017

Going on a spiritual fitness drive

2 Peter 1.1-11
Different diet and fitness regimes are all the rage. Almost every night we can watch them being inflicted on people on our television screens. Will they break under the pressure and eat a cream do-nut or a bacon buttie? Will they cut down the calories and go down to the gym or will they stay on the couch munching forbidden snacks? How much weight will they actually have managed to lose when they step onto the scales?
Of course, embarking on a diet ourselves is different. Whichever diet we choose to follow - a Stone Age diet, a low carb diet, a diet where we feast some days and fast on others - we will need willpower to succeed.
The writer of 2 Peter thinks we need a spiritual diet too. Like dieters with their diet sheet and their calorie counter by their side, ‘We have everything we need to live a life that pleases God.’ And just  like all the other diets, the spiritual diet makes ‘great and marvellous promises.’ But, just like the dieter who can’t resist a naughty cream cake, ‘our evil desires and the corrupt influences of this world’ are hard to escape. The writer says we must ‘do our best to improve our’ spiritual diet by heaping lashings of ‘goodness, understanding, self-control, patience, devotion to God, concern for others, and love,’ on top of the kindness and peacefulness which God has already given us as part of our standard rations.
Our English versions of this passage say that we should just ‘add’ these extra things to our diet, but the same word is translated ‘gloriously welcomed’ or ‘richly provided for’ at the end of the passage, so it’s clearly a bit more extravagant than just adding something. We’ve got to add lots of goodness, understanding, self-control, patience, love and devotion to our lives if we really want to improve our diet.
It’s like this, all the fancy diets in the world, and all the gym memberships, and all the running gear we might acquire, are no help at all unless we actually put them to use. And no amount of thinking about goodness, or wanting to be understanding, or to show self-control, or be patient, or loving and caring, and to devote ourselves to God, is any help to our spiritual diet until we ‘do our best’ and ‘do all we can’ to improve.
So there’s the challenge. We can’t imagine ourselves into slimmer or better people, we’ve got to make the effort to become those people in order ‘to live a life that pleases God’ and makes other people around us truly happy and appreciative of who we are.

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