I was reading a Health Impact News Article discussing the obesity epidemic and the underlying cause: sugar. The author, Jacques Peretti of The Guardian, explained how excess corn production in the 1970s caused Earl Butz–an academic who was responsible for the upswing in corn farming–to fly to Japan to integrate its development of High Fructose Corn Syrup into mass production in the States.
High Fructose Corn Syrup was perceived to have many benefits: it was cheaper than other sweeteners, made food look more appealing, and acted as a preservative. Around this time an increase in heart disease became evident; both the scientific community and food industry decided to blame fat in the food as the culprit. As a result, “low-fat” foods were developed with additional corn syrup to compensate for the flavor and texture lost by removing the fat. That’s when our health became much worse.
According to Peretti, in the 1980s obesity began to skyrocket. Our appetite for food increased with no real end in sight; the interaction between our digestive system and brain creates an addiction to sugar similar to alcohol or nicotine. Our organs stopped functioning properly, resulting in Type-2 Diabetes and decreased fertility. The most concerning travesty of all, however, is the depletion of Leptin caused by obesity. Leptin is a hormone that regulates our sense of fullness. Without it, we can eat and eat and eat and never feel full. While some in the world are starving to death, Leptin depletion will cause us to eat ourselves to death.
Right now you are probably thinking, Wow! I had no idea that sugar–High Fructose Corn Syrup in particular–is “The Most Dangerous Toxin” (as in my title). It isn’t. The reason why I am mentioning the problem with overloading our food (and bodies) with sugar is to use it as an analogy for something even more dangerous that affects every person on the earth and prevents all of us from living life–body, soul, and spirit–to the full. It’s called Sin.
Now I sincerely hope that when I mention the word “Sin”, you didn’t just hear a church organ playing in the background while Dana Carvey, dressed as “Church Lady”, sits pointing a judgmental finger at you. Or the well-meaning Christian you once knew who was trying to “get you saved” but made you feel about two inches tall (If that was me in the past, I apologize: I’m still growing 🙂 ). Sin is as real a problem–as real a HEALTH problem–as any chronic illness. No one should think that a sick person is any less valuable in God’s eyes than a healthy person. No one should think that a particularly sinful person is any less valuable to God than someone who appears to “have things together” or who has already found a degree of liberty from typical entanglements. God loves us all. He understands each one of us. He loves us where we are at. His love compels us to move toward a brighter future.
Jesus heard about it and spoke up, “Who needs a doctor: the healthy or the sick? I’m here inviting outsiders, not insiders—an invitation to a changed life, changed inside and out.
Luke 5:31-32 (MSG) Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson
Notice how Jesus had no problem connecting spiritual sickness (sin) with a health analogy. In essence, I am attempting to do the same (Jesus was able to put things a lot more briefly than I am able to; if He could write my posts they would have ten times as much meaning and take up a tenth of the space! You will just have to put up with me for now 🙂 )
So how exactly is sin–whatever it is–like corn syrup?
First of all, sin tastes good, makes things look good, and keeps things around much longer than they should be…it’s accessible, within reach, easy. We want to defend it and use more of it. When its dangers are pointed out, we blame something else or hide from the truth; we surround ourselves with people who do the same things so we don’t feel judged and commend other people for acting like us…we even give them “recipes” with how to use it. We use the excuses that “you only live once” and “just a little won’t hurt” and “at least I don’t do as much as so-and-so”. It’s interesting that we respond to sin in much they same way we respond to food when we find out its dangers. The pleasure it causes us must be protected at all costs, as well as the illusionary comfort that comes when we think we know what’s best for ourselves.
But there’s a down side to sin, just like corn syrup. It doesn’t satisfy. It doesn’t deliver what it promises. We see others doing the same thing and they don’t seem to be paying for it the way we are. It causes parts of our lives to break down without us recognizing the process: we wake up one morning and everything isn’t working rightly. The warning signs were there, but we didn’t pay attention to them. Now we have come to a point where it seems impossible to give up now. “It’s in everything.” There’s no escape without making a whole lot of changes that seem unattainable at this point. It has stolen the brightness from our future.
The worse thing about sin, similar to Leptin depletion in the body, is that at some point we lose the ability to know when we have crossed the line. We don’t realize how much we are hurting ourselves by our own actions. We no longer have a sense of healthy boundaries and we only feel OK when we are sinning. Sin becomes normal. Normal becomes “natural”. Natural becomes “good”. In the end we call what is good, bad and what is bad, good. We think what the Bible calls “righteous” is a bad, snobby, judgmental, outdated thing and what the Bible calls “Sin” is a good, acceptable, modernly enlightened, liberated, social thing. Because we cannot define right and wrong anymore, we have no way to see our way out of where we are at. We sit in the dark and call it light because that is all we’ve ever known.
What sorrow for those who say
that evil is good and good is evil,
that dark is light and light is dark,
that bitter is sweet and sweet is bitter.
Isaiah 5:20 (NLT) Holy Bible. New Living Translation copyright© 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation
So what exactly is Sin? Most people think that breaking one of the Ten Commandments is sin. The Ten Commandments could be renamed “The Ten Warning Signs That We Have a Sin Problem.” We do not become sinners by braking them (just as we do not become righteous by obeying them). We brake them because we are sinners. We were born that way, cute and innocent as we were, with a congenital birth defect that would rear its ugly head over and over again as we got older. All humans everywhere. Talk about an epidemic!
Sin is what causes us to deny what is best for us, usually because we don’t think it is best for us. God, our Creator, repeatedly tells us that He loves us and has a good plan for us. He has given us healthy boundaries in the Bible and if it wasn’t enough to have it written down on paper, He promises to give us His Holy Spirit to help us understand how to apply what’s in the Bible to our modern life. All too often, we ignore the loving parts of the Bible and focus on the harsh-sounding parts. We do this on purpose to make God’s standards seem impossible (which means we don’t have to keep them) or to make Him sound mean (so we don’t have to listen to Him). God is not mean, He is honest. Honest enough to tell us when we have a sin problem and loving enough to sacrifice Himself to provide the solution.
So sin, ultimately, is rejecting God’s plan for us. It’s much broader than a checklist of commandments. It’s an attitude of rebellion against Heaven, against Reality. We insist on redefining reality to our own comforting specifications. Just like we keep eating corn syrup and gambling with our health, we keep sinning and gamble with our souls. Surely it won’t happen to me, God? Surely it will. A loving God could not tell us anything other than the truth, even if it means we reject Him for it.
Depressed yet? Angry yet? Put those stones down…(oh yes, I can feel them through the computer 😉 )…and receive a Helping of Hope instead. We don’t have to sin. We can receive power from Heaven to get out of where we are at and move toward the bright future God has for us. That journey is the most remarkable series of changes a human being could ever undergo and still be considered the same species! All our internal definitions can be rewritten by God to match Reality (which means we will set out to do something and actually be able to accomplish it). We can discover the UNIQUE healthy boundaries God has created for each one of us and find the special blessing He has waiting for us within them. Our eyes will be able to see again, we will have consciences to guide us again and we will never again have to plod along like automatons, going with the culture, feeling like there is nothing beyond tomorrow.
The biggest Helping of Hope I can ever lead anyone to is none other than my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Jesus didn’t just save me from Hell, He saved me from Sin (Hell is where Sin is dealt with). I don’t have to be bossed around by it anymore. I can choose to give in or fight. Jesus shows me through His Word the unique path He has for me that only My Creator can lovingly craft for me. I can choose to agree with Hm or go along with what everyone else is doing. Pleasing Him has got to be the number 1 “Right Choice” if I want a “Bright Future” that only He can deliver.
Learning to follow Jesus is a journey. Just like changing to an all-natural diet from an unhealthy one, changing to a godly life from a sinful life sometimes feels slow; it can be emotional to realize that many of the things that I thought were OK are actually not OK, but really harmful. However, Jesus comforts me in my weakness and He never condemns me; He encourages me to keep going as He gently reveals the things that need to change. It takes time to learn to make right choices; I can typically only learn one thing at a time. Jesus never overwhelms me with things I cannot do; He tells me who I am and as I believe it, I act like it. Like changing to a healthy lifestyle, following Jesus is a bit more expensive in the short-term; If I want success, I have to read more and think more…and do more. But the end result is something that I can enjoy for a very long time…forever, in fact. And the good news is that I don’t have to do it in my own strength. When I take a risk and step out in faith, God enables me to do more than I thought possible. He surrounds me with believers who are willing to admonish me with the truth and encourage me to pursue God’s call for me with abandon.
If you want to follow Jesus, ask Him (out loud) for His Life; tell Him that you believe He died for your Sin, in your place, and rose again with the power of a New Life that conquers Sin and Death. Tell Him that while you may not be able to obey Him very well now, and may struggle at times to want to obey, you still want Him to be Lord of your life, Shepherd of your soul, to lead you to the green pastures He has prepared for you. The Bible says, “If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved” (Romans 10:9, NLT)
If you disagree with me, you are welcome to use this website to help you make whatever changes you feel are necessary without being judged. All I am offering is the same Hope that has been given to me. I sincerely hope if you don’t believe that Jesus is your Savior, or are just not ready, that as you move toward your bright future you will find Him in it :-).
How about you? Are you trapped in your lifestyle with no way out? Are you surrounded by people who make it easy to stay where you’re at, or do you have someone who can encourage you to see beyond the now, to what you can be, and love you along the way? There’s no better friend than Jesus. Let Him deliver you today from The Most Dangerous Toxin of all.