While studying exercise science in college, we learned about this concept of skinny fat: people who looked skinny on the outside, but had a body fat percentage that was in the overweight zone. I remember reading about how it was better to be fat and fit, rather than skinny and sedentary*. Although I don’t like to use the words skinny and fat, these phrases help get a message across: be active, eat well and don’t judge a book by it’s cover!
Speaking of books, I am part of a book club and we just read a book where this topic came up once again. I will admit that none of us were thrilled about the book, but there was a section that stuck with me. The author writes:
After this encounter [with a personal trainer] I began to wonder how many of us are skinny fat–not physically, but spiritually. We look trim, but if too much weight is added to our lives, we cannot beat it. We do okay walking on flat surfaces at a comfortable pace. But life is not a treadmill that we control. We are on a path with God, and I sense the incline and speed increasing. –Lioness Arising by Lisa Bevere
What Bevere did was take this term “skinny fat” and applied it to our spiritual health. I chewed on it a little and felt like she had a good idea going: often times we are concerned with how we “look” to others spiritually and are satisfied if we appear to be spiritually fit on the outside–you know– helping the poor, going to church, giving money to good causes, being “positive”. However, could someone be unhealthy even if they look like they are thriving on the outside?
In recent years, I have realized this truth: I was hopeless, and there wasn’t anything I could do to save myself. I was spiritually sick. I understood that Jesus died the death that I should have died, even though he lived the life I should have lived*.
He saved me, and there was nothing I did to deserve it. God’s acceptance of me does not come from how much of a good person I appear to be, but because Jesus took my death sentence and now God can pardon me.
Just as with our physical bodies, one’s spiritual health cannot merely be determined by what others see on the outside. It might be time for a check-up to see what’s really going on in there.
*Reading Dr. Kenneth Cooper was influential in my learning about physical fitness and reading Dr. Timothy Keller played a huge part in my learning about spiritual fitness. I encourage you to look into both authors.