Tuesday, March 06, 2007

In it together

I almost thought I had come to the wrong meeting last night! A lot of what our Weight Watchers leader said could almost apply to a vibrant and growing church!

Every week, we get given an inspirational article and this week it was “Perfect weight loss partners”. It was looking at the support we need that will help our weight loss the most. It is all about weight loss, but the principles apply to anything really.

“Many successful WW members find that losing weight is easier when they have the right people, information and encouragement around them.” It seems to me that if you apply this to developing your relationship with God, the same things apply. You need to have the right people, the right information and encouragement to grow as a Christian.

“Encouragement – someone to celebrate my small achievements.” The scales at WW measure half pounds too. Sometimes it is not even the weight loss that is celebrated – but a habit broken, or a good practice taken on board. Sometimes, in church, we wait for the big achievements before we testify about the goodness of God.

“Accountability – someone who’ll expect me to step on the scales each week.” I know from trying to loose weigh on my own that if I don’t feel like I have lost weight, I will just not step on the scales. Why bother having it confirmed that you have had a bad week and eaten far too much – much better to wait until you “feel” slimmer! Backsliding as a Christian does not happen over night – it is gradual and slow and relatively unnoticed. Being built into a body, someone notices and hopefully says something.

“Understanding – someone who knows what it takes to lose weight.” It is important to remember our roots and where we have come from. Our leader has a very unflattering picture of herself posted on the entrance board. She has lost masses of weight. Inevitably I look at the picture and I think that if she could do it, so can I. I know that she has been through what I am going through. In a church setting this has to be true. If we feel that no-one can relate to our situation, then we take the next step of believing that they cannot help us. Maybe we need to be prepared to paste the unflattering picture of ourselves for people to see!

“Motivation – someone to keep me inspired.” It says in scripture that we are to spur one another on to love and good works. I can remember preaching a long time ago from a few verses in Ecclesiastes – the bit about why two are better than one. There was a line about two keeping warm, while one person on their own gets cold. I saw this in terms of passion – on your own it is easy to let you passions cool down. Another person can remind you, and poke and prod you to pursue the passion.

“An exercise buddy – someone to exercise with.” Our walk with God is our own walk, we are accountable for our own spiritual temperature. But other people can have an input into that. I enjoy a bible study with a friend every week. We don’t just exercise our minds over what a verse means, but we allow the word we look at to throw light and convict us and challenge us. I could do a good job on my own – but my friend sees things I don’t see, and she sets me challenges that I would never reach for.

“Day to day support – someone who supports the small changes I make on a daily basis.” I have people, WW people, who I can phone if I wish. I haven’t phoned them as yet! I have been on weight loss programmes so often that I am an expert at knowing what I ought to do. I don’t have many questions. When it comes to my Christian life – I have experience, but I am not an expert. It is sad that our day to day support has become for many of us our week to week, Sunday to Sunday, support. We can phone people mid week, but we rarely do, so in the end we struggle. The equipping that God longs to give is in people – but we don’t ask, and we don’t offer, so we struggle. We may triumph in the end, but only after a prolonged battle that we need not have fought.

Well, I am certainly challenged to play a more effective part in building God’s living temple – His church. I am running through names in my head and thinking of how I can help and support people.

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