Captivated, I stared at the scale. I had done it—I had reached my goal weight! After struggling since I was a young lady, I had finally made it to a weight considered acceptable for my age and height. The battle had been hard. I had always known I was overweight, but until I looked the issue straight in the face and asked for help from those trusted enough to give me guidance, I did not have the knowledge or the will power to work on my condition.
I had joined a weight-loss program and began attending weekly meetings to learn how others had been successful at weight loss and how I might best apply the program in my own life to get the desired results. It was not an easy journey, but with patience and accountability, I had succeeded. I had learned new habits, taken up new disciplines, put on new clothing, and understood the pitfalls that had previously held me in bondage. Now came the real question: Would I be able to maintain my present weight?
Fortunately for me, the program encourages accountability. Each week, I can return to the group without financial obligation as long as I maintain my goal weight. If I mess up, I can continue, even though there will be a price to pay. I am there to be encouraged by fellow pilgrims, as well as to encourage them.
Pursuing the consecrated life
The consecrated life reminds me very much of my present obesity issue. I am still in my earthly body and surrounded by the same facts of life—I must eat to maintain my life. The temptations are still around me to slip into obesity. As I focus on maintenance, I can either lament the losses of all those “good” foods and lazy mornings of no exercise, or I can face each new day focused on the new lifestyle I desire and the disciplines involved to maintain that goal.
God has a better goal for a person’s life than to continue to live in sin and shame. He made it possible through His Holy Spirit for one to live a life of fellowship with Him that brings glory to His name. His first creation enjoyed the breath of life in them until they decided to live as a god in their own selfish way (Genesis 2:7). As a result, death, destruction, and separation from God entered the world.
At some point in our lives, everyone must eventually come face to face with their own sinfulness (Romans 3:23). All who decide to invite Jesus Christ to be their Lord and Master are new creations (2 Corinthians 5:17). Some people experience amazing transformations, and their old habits fall away instantaneously. For the majority of Christ followers, however, I believe the process is similar to that of my weight loss.
When one decides to follow the Jesus way, they receive the Holy Spirit into their life as a teacher and comforter. New believers in Jesus should come into accountability with a more mature believer. As they continue on the journey together, the baby Christian must learn to practice the disciplines of the Christian life. She must learn how to deal with temptation in the power of the Holy Spirit (I Corinthians 10:13). She must learn to practice the presence of the Holy Spirit. She must also need to see herself as a new creation in Christ Jesus.
One of the hardest things for a person losing weight is to get rid of the old clothes and put on new ones. As the body slenders, the baggy sweatshirts and pants that used to hide the old body become detrimental to the emotional being of the person. So, in the consecrated life, the believer must learn to see themselves not as a liar, for example, but as one who has the tendency to lie with the ability to overcome it by asking the Holy Spirit for help. They must be willing to see themselves as God sees them, confessing their sins daily and appropriating the power of the Holy Spirit to make those sins right with God and their fellow man.
To reach out to the nonbeliever, I feel intercessory prayer is the best line of defense. As with weight loss, when others notice the change, they will ask questions. This is the perfect time to share with them the way and to encourage them to consider a lifestyle change.
There is also the opportunity to lead a group of seekers to hear more of the good news and then make their decision. However, I believe direct exhortation is better for someone already on the journey with Jesus. Yet one must give advice in Christian love and be very aware that they are also liable to slip on their own voyage (Galatians 6:1).
Temptations also abound for a Christ follower. If secluded, sinning against others may be minimal but one looses out on the community aspect of the Holy Spirit’s work. Jesus prayed for his followers in the world (John 17:10–12). Just as I need to prepare myself to go to a buffet by drinking lots of water and not going famished, so a Christian must prepare themselves daily to enter the world.
Putting on the armor of God in a time of meditation on God’s word and prayer are very necessary disciplines to keep one set apart on their spiritual journey (Ephesians 6:9–11). When sin does occur, the Holy Spirit is very gentle in giving the power to see the action as God sees it, as well as in encouraging one to confess it. Confession to God and restoration may also involve approaching another person if they have been wronged.
What happens if one gives into temptations repeatedly and disregards the promptings of the Holy Spirit? Many obese persons have moved away from accountability after losing weight and entered a more desperate condition. I believe this is also possible in the spiritual realm. If a Christ follower totally disregards the disciplines of the Christian walk and refuses to be brought back into accountability, they would be in a worse state than before they decided to follow Christ (2 Peter 2:19–21).
That said, I believe that for all persons there is forgiveness as long as they live in this life. God is not willing that any should perish (2 Peter 3:9). When we face God on judgment day, our response to Christ’s claims in this life will have decided our fate (2 Corinthians 5:10).
A fulfilling life
Dealing with weight loss and living a life consecrated to God have similarities, yet I realize there are inconsistencies. As Paul so aptly states in his letter to Timothy, “For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come” (1 Timothy 4:8).
At the same time, the transferable concepts help us understand that a life consecrated to God will enable us to enjoy communion with God, establish better relationships with others in this life, and look forward to praising and glorifying God for all eternity.