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Self-Deception

I heard on a podcast just yesterday that doctors and the healthcare industry as a whole are to blame for the obesity epidemic. Dr. Jason Fung was being interviewed by Chalene Johnson (a health and fitness celebrity) on her podcast, “The Chalene Show”. Dr. Fung is a passionate, self-proclaimed controversial doctor in the area of metabolic disorders and obesity management. I was highly attuned to what he had to say and what they were discussing. I enjoy reading and listening to most things wellness, nutrition, health and fitness related. I think the title of the podcast was something like “Are 6 Small Meals Making Us Fat?”. Catchy, right? It certainly lured me in. The basic premise of this specific podcast was how the calories in versus calories out equation (regardless of their nutrient profile), low-fat trend, and eat less move more mentality were all wrong. That the information provided to the general consumer starting roughly in the 1980’s was dangerously misleading and blatantly false. There was a lot of good content worth listening to, and many helpful ideas for people who struggle with obesity, metabolic disorders, insulin resistance or weight loss resistance. What I did not like, though, was when the interviewee (Dr. Jung) started playing the blame game. He basically told the listening audience to blame their doctors, that none of the health problems they may be experiencing right now are their individual responsibility.

Yuck.

This I do not like. This is where I feel the well-intentioned doctor fails us. This is an example of what Pastor Jason from Hope Church in Oconomowoc, WI calls self-deception. I don’t disagree with the fact that the current state we are in as a nation could largely be a direct result of the fallacious information we (the American culture) were fed (pun intended). According to the most recent data, adult obesity rates now exceed 35 percent in four states, 30 percent in 25 states and are above 20 percent in all states. Louisiana has the highest adult obesity rate at 36.2 percent and Colorado has the lowest at 20.2 percent (stateofobesity.org, updated September 2016). I do disagree with the fact that it is solely the healthcare industry’s fault. Or even that we need to blame anyone or anything. Instead, we should be encouraged by the medical community - all of it - to take responsibility for our personal health and wellness and be reassured they will be our advocates and supporters, not our saviors or miracle workers. Regardless of what brought you to a certain state - malnourished, overweight, obese, inactive, underweight - own it and do what you can about it.

Self-deception in this case causes more than a physical malady or ailment. It is a means by which we minimize sin, and feel separate from our Savior Jesus.

Just like King Saul in the Old Testament book of 1 Samuel. I was reminded of the story of King Saul and the Amalekites by Pastor Jason. In 1 Samuel 15 we learn of God’s clear instructions to Saul and the Israelite army to attack and defeat the Amalekites. God was pretty specific about what he wanted Saul to do (v 3). Saul did what God told him, kind of. He attacked and defeated the Amalekites, however, he did not fully destroy them as God told him to. Instead he captured King Agag and took the best of the Amalekites’ cattle and sheep. Saul deceived himself into thinking because he mostly followed God’s orders, he was still in God’s favor. The whole account is quite fascinating and I encourage you to read it, 1 Samuel 15:1-23. It may have to do with hand-to-hand combat, kings and kingdoms, and plunder and hostages, yet it is so very relevant to our life today, specifically this podcast with Dr. Fung.

You believing Dr. Fung’s claim that you are not to blame for your current state of health is like King Saul’s claim that he did in fact obey God (v. 20). Both are self-deceiving. Saul knew what God wanted him to do, yet he did what he wanted to do instead. He had personal motives for wanting to take their king hostage, I’m sure. That makes him look strong, mighty and powerful in the eyes of his kingdom. Similar to how I have personal motives for wanting to blame others for my current state of health (or lack of). It makes me look like less of a failure, perhaps. It helps me to better deal with my circumstances if I feel as if I am not to blame. It enables me to continue doing what I’m doing and not feel guilty or compelled to change, because it’s not my fault and because it’s what I was told to do.

Yuck.

God desires mercy, not sacrifice. He wants us to abide in Him and obey Him because He is Lord and Savior. Not because by doing so, we will achieve a certain goal or be made better. But because obedience to God’s will in my life leads to success.

Hebrews 10:5-7 “Therefore, when Christ came into the world, he said: ‘Sacrifice and offering you did not desire, but a body you prepared for me; with burnt offerings and sin offerings you were not pleased. Then I said, Here I am—it is written about me in the scroll— I have come to do your will, my God.’”

Jesus came into this world to complete the will of His Father, the almighty God. God’s will was to forgive the sins of the whole world. In order to do so, there needed to be an ultimate sacrifice. Jesus was that sacrifice. Jesus was the perfect example of obeying God. Not just kind of. Not in a way that He felt was “good enough”. Not in a way that made things easier for Him. And not His own way. He submitted to His Creator’s will through and through. In doing so, He saved sinners - of whom I am the worst.

When I submit to God’s will for my health and fitness life completely and wholly, I win. When I decide that I can do it my way instead; or I can take the easy way out; or maybe just kind of take care of myself - mostly even, just not through and through - I lose. I lose confidence. I lose self-discipline. I lose ambition. I lose motivation. I lose my connection to my Creator. I lose my relationship with my Savior. And I lose the power of the Holy Spirit that lives in me. Why? Because I have become the master of self-deception. I have allowed the deceiver to rule instead of listening to the truth, the truth of what God’s will is for my health and fitness life.

What is the truth? What is God’s will for my health and fitness life?

Stay tuned to the next time I write for the answer to this.

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