Matthew R. Perry

A Gospel Lesson from the Biggest Loser

In Church Life on February 4, 2009 at 11:50 am


Those of you who are fans of NBC’s The Biggest Loser realize that the premise of the show is a combination of training to lose weight along with positioning oneself to stay above the “yellow line” (the line that separates the two lowest percentages of weight loss from the others, thus making them eligible for the others who are above the yellow line to vote one or the other off the ranch (the place where they lived and trained during their stay).

As you can imagine, the side stories add a lot of drama. In the fifth week of the seventh season, the biggest drama of the Biggest Loser so far as been that of the Silver Team of Carla and Joelle. Coming to the ranch, they were best friends. Yet the drama began when it was clear to everyone that Joelle was not invested. While Carla worked at a tremendous level, Joelle did a lot of talking (to the point where here trainer, Bob, lost it for the first time) but gave plenty of excuses for not doing the work.

When Joelle lost 0 pounds and was up for elimination, everyone chimed in (including her partner, Carla) questioning her desire. She gave excuses, reasons, felt she was doing the work—even though no one saw it. As a result, Carla and Joelle were voted off in favor of a team who wanted to be there. Their friendship is now strained at best, possibly non-existent.

What’s the gospel lesson here? Too many of us are deceived as to our condition–even when God and others testify to something different. We become so self-absorbed because we are so imprisoned to our sin. The result of sin is a hardness of heart (Ezekiel 36:26-27) that is blind to their true condition. Joelle’s reaction to her poor weight loss which resulted from her poor work efforts which resulted from a selfishness in not wanting to pay the price. Her actions didn’t just affect her, it affected teammates and everyone in the house. But it all started with her resilience toward any correction or reflection. She felt she was OK.

Those in this bondage, this feeling they are OK and failing to see their true need, will never see their need for a Savior. Our churches are filled with people who think they are in good spiritual shape, but Christ only serves to make good people better. Look at Ephesians 2:1-7:

And you were dead in the trespasses and sins [2] in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience— [3] among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. [4] But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, [5] even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ— by grace you have been saved— [6] and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, [7] so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.

Scripture tells us repeatedly that we have nothing of any spiritual consequence to bring to Christ. “Blessed are the poor in spirit.” Blessed are those who see their spiritual destitution. Blessed are those who see their deadness. Blessed are those who see their need.

We do not have the equipment to meet that need, “But God, being rich in mercy… made us alive together in Christ.” If you do not understand your need, you will not run to the solution. Joelle is a prime example of someone who had a heart issue. She thought about herself during the workouts, she thought about herself in her reaction to what others had observed, and she thought about herself even now in breaking off a friendship.

For those who believe that believe in self is the answer, the truth is that self causes more problems than offers solutions. Turn to Christ who deals honestly with us in our sin, but also provides the solution through His death and resurrection. He shows us the horror of our sin by His death, but He shows us His power and grace by defeating it through His resurrection.

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