Did you know that I belong the a United Methodist Church? Well, I do . . .and our Bishop for the North Alabama Conference is Will Willimon. We have been studying one of his books.
We've talked about pride and envy and anger and we've talked about sloth and greed. All of those have been fairly interesting but yesterday's lesson was about Gluttony. I started the lesson by telling the class that I was much more qualified to teach the lesson than the bishop because gluttony is a sin that I commit every day. It was actually a very hard lesson for me to teach . . .standing in front of that group of folks who could look at me and see how overweight I am . . .but I firmly believe that God uses me and speaks through me and I think that is the only way that I was able to talk about gluttony. To be honest, when I first read the lesson, I wanted to cry. I also must admit that I haven't exhibited any gluttonous eating since I read the chapter.
The Bishop pointed out some interesting things about gluttony. He said that it is not just overeating. Gluttony also encompasses anorexia and bulimia because of the focus on food. Too much focus on anything can be gluttony. Too much tv. Too much entertainment. Too much alcohol. Too much spending. He said that little word, "too" is the difference. In gluttony, it is the excessiveness that is the sin – excessive consumption of A.L.L. things as well as excessive attentiveness to food.
The true face of the sin of gluttony is that we can desire something more than we desire God. Food and entertainment become more valuable and more important to us than spending time with God. According to Willimon, most Christians spend seven times more time on entertainment than they do in reading the Bible and attending church. I'm actually surprised that number is not higher.
The list of seven deadly sins was composed a long, long time ago. But our culture has shaped how we think of overweight individuals today. Willimon says this, "“For most of us, the repulsive thing that gets us about Gluttony is not the sin but the fat, that blobulous bane of middle-aged existence, that to which Americans are succumbing in alarming numbers. Gluttony is an outrage against our ideal body image, not infidelity against God. For most of us, the “sin” in Gluttony is in the resulting ugliness and possibly ill health, but mostly ugliness. Little there is in the Christian faith that makes ugliness a matter of sin."
My friend, Amy posted a picture on facebook the other day. One picture showed the organs of a woman at an ideal weight. The other picture showed the organs of an overweight woman. It was not a pretty picture. Gluttony - the food kind - is not a good thing. Don't you hate it when you teach some sort of lesson and the lesson is just for you? That is how I feel about this lesson and seeing that picture on facebook. But even more importantly, I must admit that the lesson helped me in lots of ways . . .to see that Gluttony is much more than just overeating.
Here is the picture of the overweight person . . .not a pretty picture.
This middle-aged overweight momma has a lot to think about . . . .