The same thing happens every week: My wife turns on The Biggest Loser, I pretend that I’m not going to watch it, then I sit spellbound for the entire two-hour broadcast. You wouldn’t think it would be fun to watch people work out for two hours, but somehow it is.
The thing that I find most interesting about the show is the way I watch it. During the two-hour broadcast, as I watch contestants on the show lose up to 22 pounds (in a week!) through a well-controlled diet and insane workouts, I sit on my couch and do almost nothing. I say “almost” because I do engage in one activity: I eat. I eat junk—ice cream, chips and salsa, string cheese (we buy it for my daughter but I eat it myself), etc.
The irony is not lost on me. But I’m sure I’m not the only one. I think it would be interesting to do a show on people watching the Biggest Loser. Probably the only appropriate way to watch the show would be on a treadmill or while doing pushups and crunches.
Here comes the spiritual twist: I think this serves as a fascinating parallel to the way we read our Bibles. How many of us read tales about prophets boldly proclaiming God’s word, study the life and mission of Jesus, and memorize exhortations to love our neighbors as ourselves—all of this while remaining apathetic to how the mission of God is or isn’t being played out in our own lives?
With The Biggest Loser, we watch inspiring stories about fitness as a means of embracing a sedentary lifestyle. With the Bible, we saturate our minds with God’s truth about His will, mission, and calling on our lives as a means of fulfilling a cold religious duty—we have no intention of changing our lifestyle in the light of what we read, we just read because we know we should.
So the question is, who is the real loser: the fat guy who loses over 100 pounds, or the slightly overweight guy who lazily watches the fat guy literally work his butt off (Get it? Literally because he loses so much weight that his hind-quarters shrink…)?
Who is the real loser: the guy who lazily watches a show about losing weight, or the guy who reads the Bible without being changed by it?
“Be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror. For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like. But the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing.” (James 1:22-25)