making soap

I beat my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize.            – 1 Corinthians 9 : 27

***

i love Dr. Pepper. It is undeniably the greatest thing ever made by man. Granted, there is no way to know what is in it, but whatever it is keeps me running back for more. It is quite possible that i could extol the wonders of Dr. Pepper for this entire post, but for your sake, i won’t. Believe it or not, there are actually times that i incentivize myself with Dr. Pepper. i get one for myself during a productive day at work, or after a day where i have been very careful to eat only nutritious foods. The only problem with all of this is that there is a 99% chance it is utterly horrible for me, and is quite literally shortening my life.

i find it hard to have discipline in situations like this, and there have been many in my life. Dr. Pepper is only the most humorous of examples, and by the grace of God it is one of the few left. My self-destructive/self-indulgent habits have included the following, and often concurrently: fast food, overeating, sweet-tooth, soda, cigarettes, alcohol, drugs, lack of sleep, oversleeping, obsession with video games, obsession with movies, obsession with TV, and bad hygiene. In short, almost everything i did for twelve years was entirely reckless and indulgent, and essentially nothing i did was edifying to my body. i am grateful that God has seen fit to liberate me from the most dangerous of these behaviors, but nevertheless i still find myself struggling to deny myself the little pleasures, like the large instead of the small burger, the fast food instead of the salad, the TV instead of the gym.

i am not this way because i intend to be this way. i am this way because i do not intend to be otherwise. Just to be clear, i did not say that i intend not to be hygienic, that i intend not to be productive, but that i do not intend not to be. These states of filth and laziness do not require intent. All they require is negligence.

i have been immensely self-destructive in my life, not because my purpose was to be destructive, but rather because i simply had no purpose at all. i did not need to work, or pay close attention, or exert great effort, or follow a strict plan to end up completely hopeless and degenerate. All i had to do was nothing.

***

Without purpose, there is no motivation. It is the young bachelor who will usually trim his hair and dress nicely and wear the finest cologne in an effort to impress the right girl. The elder married gentleman has often ceased to do these things because he no longer has anything to gain.

Though i can no longer agree with the majority of its philosophies, the film “Fight Club” was such a tremendous success because it understood this fact. Thus we see Tyler Durden, the revolutionary protagonist, at the peak of his influence saying to his followers, “We’re the middle children of history, man. No purpose or place. We have no Great War. No Great Depression. Our great war is a spiritual war. Our great depression is our lives.” He uses their collective malaise to galvanize this group of hopeless and gullible nobodies and transform them into a unified body with a clear purpose. His alter-ego puts it this way: “Fight Club became the reason to cut your hair short or trim your fingernails.” Similarly, and less fictionally, we find this very fervor among religious extremists all over the world, who are willing to make great personal sacrifices, even destroy themselves entirely, for the sake of what they believe.

And yet here i sit, comfortable in my chair, unable to stop drinking Dr. Pepper. Somehow, because i was blind to the truth until this very night, i have been unable to tap into this force. In Christ, and in the Gospel, we ought to have an untold wealth of motivation, unlimited purpose, and all of the power and spirit we need to be every bit as disciplined as any of these other fanatics. Of course, as long as i think of exercise and diet as simply “things i ought to do because they are better,” i will very quickly find myself eating quarts of Blue Bell and drinking soda while watching Futurama in my boxers. But as soon as i remember that the more i steward this body, the longer i can be of use to Christ here on this earth, then it instantly becomes a joy and a pleasure. The longer i live, the more numerous will be my opportunities to share the Gospel, and the greater will be my service to the Kingdom. And there is no more significant purpose in the universe than pouring out ourselves for our fellow man. Physical maintenance, though it may seem fruitless (and as an end in itself it certainly is), is but one small way i can live for something greater than myself.

It seems like such a profoundly simple truth, but somehow i missed it up until now. To be able to see fruit borne in the lives of others is the greatest joy in the world. In light of that, Dr. Pepper just isn’t going to cut it anymore.

***

So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.    – 1 Corinthians 10 : 31

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