By Jody Bennett
I have heard sugar called "white poison" by some health experts, who believe it should be eliminated from our diets altogether. But that is really hard to do because, of course, sugar tastes so wickedly delicious!
That idea of something we know is wrong and should avoid but are continually drawn to by our appetites, reminds me of the problem each of us have with sin.
Whether it be a little white lie here and there, gossip, jealousy, angry outbursts, illegally downloading content off the Internet, disobeying road signs, or something more sinister, we feel that a little "sugar" won't do any harm.
Like eating sugar, we don't have to be taught to lie or lose our temper - it is our natural inclination. In fact, we might feel that cutting "little sins" or unhealthy food out of our lives, would be cutting out all the fun.
Sometimes we actually do not realise how what we eat is contributing to our poor quality of life, or we do not yet see the effects of our choices on our bodies and feel there is no need to change our habits. Similarly, we may be ignorant of the effect all our "little sins" have on us spiritually and eternally.
Some of us end up having a major health crisis that forces us to re-evaluate what we eat. In the same way, many people only come to God when their lives have hit rock bottom and the consequences of their sins seem insurmountable.
So conversion (becoming a Christian) would be like the moment that one decides to make changes and to commit to living healthily and exercising more.
The Bible is like a fitness and nutrition guide, convincing people of the need to change and showing them how to go about it.
Like a nutrition guide, the Bible is also not going to do any good if it is never read, or if it is read but not put into practice.
The analogy can be taken further as both the Christian walk and healthy living require perseverance and commitment.
They are not just something you choose and then go on living the same way.
Things will change in your life, habits will be different, friends may not understand and mock or shun you, and your time will be spent differently.
We have to be in for the long haul and sometimes there are no visible results for a while.
Also, neither spiritual nor physical perfection is possible in this life and we each achieve our goals to varying degrees.
We will continue to make mistakes and sin, just as we will continue to slip in the odd dessert or chocolate.
And like food temptation, we each may have those particular sins that are hardest for us to resist.
Like healthy eating fanatics, some Christians can be rather annoying, boasting about their holiness (fitness) and making everyone else feel guilty.
Strict rule following about anything is neither attractive nor motivating. But, by the same token, some people you can see
are glowing with health and energy even though they don't wear their lycra and spandex to the supermarket or comment on your every mouthful!
In the same way, genuine Christian's lives should glow with the kindness and goodness of God.
As with any analogy, however, this one must not be taken too far. Two major differences between the Christian walk and healthy living are that, while the Holy Spirit of God may be like our personal trainer in some respects, He is not just sometimes outside us urging us on and explaining our nutrition guide. Instead the Holy Spirit comes to reside within us when we accept Jesus into our lives, empowering us to do what God commands.
Also, the Bible is not just a fallible nutrition guide, of which there are hundreds of contradictory examples, but the inspired Word of God on which we can totally rely for the truth.
And there is no analogy for God's grace, His undeserved kindness and favour, which took pity on us in our sin and brokenness and made a way through the death and resurrection of Jesus, for us to be put into a right relationship with God.•