I want to adorn the Gospel, that is why I decided to start losing weight back at the end of June. It wasn’t on a whim either; it was a conviction. I wasn’t ultimately concerned for my health. While my health is an added benefit, I am far more concerned with what my weight says about the Gospel. As I have been engaging in mission work I have been harangued for numerous reasons. Several times over the last few years those rebelling against God have called me out for being overweight.
I was never the kind of overweight that lands a person on a reality TV show. However, I was clearly out of shape. I often joked “I am less in shape than I am in shapes.” I even said things like, “I would rather die fat and happy over skinny and miserable.” I wasn’t interested in whether my physical appearance told others I wanted to adorn the Gospel.
What hit me at my core was how idolatrous that attitude is. While I never acted the part of a glutton, I certainly looked the part. Yes, it certainly could be said that some people responded the way they did out of conviction. They called me fat because it was easier than facing their guiltiness before God. At-the-same-time that would have been too easy for me. Furthermore, how I looked wasn’t showing anyone that I wanted to adorn the Gospel.
So, it started to rest on me and I came under some serious conviction. I am not sure if those comments were being used by God to prompt me to live a healthier life. Yet, what I did become sure of was that I didn’t want to look the way I was looking any more. This wasn’t some vain empty concern for my appearance. I haven’t yet gone full CrossFit.
Something else started to happen to me as well. I noticed that it wasn’t just me; there are droves of other street preachers that are very much overweight. Furthermore, there are many pastors that are as well. It cut me rather deep. Shouldn’t we all want to adorn the Gospel; especially when in the public eye?
You could find me preaching against sin and wickedness in the world. In fact, I preach the Gospel in front of several strip clubs in my area. I challenge people, many of them professing Christians, about engaging in and endorsing such wanton immorality. Yet God calls gluttony a sin as well. God makes it clear that along with the fornicators and liars and murderers, the glutton is headed for serious trouble. So, I began wondering if how I looked showed that I want to adorn the Gospel, or if I was merely a hypocrite.
I would sooth my burdened conscience with soft answers. “You aren’t a glutton Todd, you are just getting old.” “It costs too much to eat in a healthy way.” Some justify their gluttonous obesity by blaming their genetics. Some hypocritically point to God and claim He made them prone to being overweight. However, these same people would balk at the homosexual who claimed God made them that way.
I will not state that there is never a legitimate reason for a believer to be overweight. There can be any number of contributing factors to weight gain, some of them truly medical. I have several friends that are handicapped in one way or another. It would be quite understandable for them to battle being overweight. Some of them do actively fight that battle. I believe that God is merciful and gracious to them in that. Furthermore, in that struggle, they adorn the Gospel.
Adorn The Gospel
However, the Gospel minister, be he an elder in the local church, or an evangelist on the street, has no cause or right to be overweight. In his first letter to the church Peter talks about our adorning in chapter three verses three through five. His primary focus in that passage is on the women of the church. They had been succumbing to worldly pressures to adorn themselves with fineries and fancies even while gathered for worship. Therefore, the focus stopped being about worshiping God and became a beauty pageant instead.
Peter was appalled. He had to correct the trend. So, he addresses the heart desire behind why those women would want to adorn themselves in such a way. Peter is loving and kind, but he doesn’t hold back at all. He points them to a better adorning. He tells them to long for a better adorning.
This is what pushed me to lose weight. I had become comfortable in my body without giving a thought to how I was adorned. I never questioned whether my weight was communicating my desire and passion to magnify God. At no time did I take a moment to think that how I look to the lost doesn’t adorn the Gospel.
Several years ago, I became familiar with an itinerant revival preacher. This man travels from local church to local church preaching against fleshly living. He is a hellfire and brimstone type. I watched with awe as he would shout people into changing how they lived. He was good at it. He got me once or twice.
Yet, I also noticed that he was bordering on morbidly obese. This never seemed to faze him as he stood behind the pulpit sweating as he pounded on it to emphasize his most salient shouted points. He would castigate the congregation for not spending enough time reading the bible or praying. On one occasion he called hellfire down on those who were regular attenders of the church but “couldn’t be bothered” to show up for the “special meetings”.
Still the irony was unsettling. He could preach against going to movies. Against drinking alcohol and smoking cigarettes. He would preach against everything. Still, he never preached against gluttony. All these years later I must wonder why that was. I saw him eat on several occasions because I made him several meals. I saw his eating habits. He was the epitome of a glutton. He was never going to preach against a sin he was wrapped up in.
Don’t Be That Guy
I don’t want to be that type of person. I want to adorn the Gospel well because I want to be able to address every sin. Gospel ministry shouldn’t be hindered because I have a pet sin I am holding on to. Sure, it is easy to have hidden sins and preach against those openly. Christian men addicted to pornography can still preach against adultery. However, there is something far more irksome in seeing a man preach against a sin he is clearly wrapped up in.
So yes, I want to adorn the Gospel. I want all areas of my life to be bedecked with the Doctrines of God. I do want my conduct and my appearance to commend the Gospel to the lost I am preaching to. That should be the motivation of each of us. Yet, above that, those of us who feel the call to missions work in our own regions need to be keenly aware of how we look to the world. I am not talking about catering to them, I am talking about how we adorn the Gospel message.
What Is It You Adorn
In whatever way this reaches your heart I am hopeful that it compels you to change. For me it was my weight. I will not settle until I have made the proper changes. For you dear brethren, it may be another area. As I mentioned in a recent article, we often say more with our actions than we do with our words. All I can ask is that you examine yourselves and consider how you adorn the Gospel. Rest assured, you are adorning something. If it isn’t the Gospel, it very well may be something you do not want to consider.
Soli Deo Gloria!