Lessons from the “Fat Board”

 

On this Lord’s Day, my desire is to help you see your sin, help you see your Savior, help you joyfully and eagerly repent, and encourage you to rest in Christ alone. Now, I warn you; if you desire to consider yourself “fit,” this devotional will not aid you. However, if you desire to open your eyes and see the truth as Christ sees the truth, I do believe this blog can be of great assistance in your personal worship today.


Last year, one of my friends took me on my first journey to Tuscaloosa — the “Holy Land” of the Alabama Crimson Tide. There I tasted some of America’s finest barbecue. I toured the huge campus and gazed upon the stateliness of academic buildings, sorority houses, administrative offices, and the football stadium. It was a fantastic day to walk about the Denny Chimes Tower and enjoy the park. My day was then capped off by receiving a special tour of the inner sanctum. I was given a behind-the-scenes look of the athletic offices and training facilities. During my visit, pictures could not be taken as I was led through the various meeting rooms, film rooms, dining rooms, recreation rooms, weight rooms, training rooms, and locker rooms, In the process, I beheld something that made me chuckle. Upon one of the walls, posted for anyone walking by to see, was the “Fat Board.” On that particular day, no personal information was posted, but I could imagine the embarrassment of being an Alabama recruit, lacking self-control in the off-season, coming into preseason camp severely overweight, and seeing their name, picture, and poundage posted high for all to see. For some, desiring to be their best, striving to start, wanting to earn prime playing time, and longing for a national championship, this would be enough to encourage them to strive for perfect physical fitness. However, for others, the shame of public embarrassment must work. Who would want to be publicly posted as “Unfit for the kingdom of Saban.”

Well my friends, if it is important for someone to be “Fit for the kingdom of Saban,” how much more important is it to be found “Fit for the kingdom of God?” So, how are we doing? The answer is, “Not so well.” I think I see our names posted on Jesus’ board of shame.

Consider Jesus’ teaching found in Luke 9:57-62:

As they were going along the road, someone said to him, “I will follow you wherever you go.” And Jesus said to him, “Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.”

To another he said, “Follow me.” But he said, “Lord, let me first go and bury my father.” And Jesus said to him, “Leave the dead to bury their own dead. But as for you, go and proclaim the kingdom of God.”

Yet another said, “I will follow you, Lord, but let me first say farewell to those at my home.” Jesus said to him, “No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.”

No one is “Fit for the Kingdom of God” who pants for earthly position, prominence, power, possessions, or pleasure. Disciples should focus only on Jesus and be ready to forgo all the normal comforts and rights of life.

No one is “Fit for the Kingdom of God” who prefers other relations to Jesus. A disciples job is to hear, heed, leave, and cleave to Christ alone. HIs interests are to be Christ’s interests. He is to be disinterested in competing interests.

No one is “Fit for the Kingdom of God” who, after his hand to the plow and going to work, even so much as glances back. We are not even talking here of those who turn back or quit. We are merely talking about the gaze of our eyes and affection of our hearts. There is not to be any part of us like Lot’s wife. Our eyes and affections should be focused forthright on Christ and his mission.

Therefore, who here is “Fit for the Kingdom of God?” Not me. Not you. All of us are too interested in the rights and delights of this world. All of us have competing relationships. And all of us take our eyes off Jesus and set our affections on temporal things that rust and get corrupted. We are “wretched” disciples “prone to wander.” We are living sacrifices continually crawling off the altar. We are not focused. We are not faithful. We are not “Fit for the Kingdom of God.” There is no one righteous, no not one. All are guilty. All are corrupt. All belong on Jesus’ “Fat Board.”

However, there is great comfort that comes from the Gospel, and I believe a very old hymn presents it very well. I especially like the version from Matthew West.

(https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=50pWJXto4-4)

1. Come, ye sinners, poor and wretched,
Weak and wounded, sick and sore;
Jesus, ready, stands to save you,
Full of pity, joined with power.
He is able, He is able;
He is willing; doubt no more.

2. Come ye needy, come, and welcome,
God’s free bounty glorify;
True belief and true repentance,
Every grace that brings you nigh.
Without money, without money
Come to Jesus Christ and buy.

3. Come, ye weary, heavy laden,
Bruised and broken by the fall;
If you tarry ’til you’re better,
You will never come at all.
Not the righteous, not the righteous;
Sinners Jesus came to call.

4. Let not conscience make you linger,
Nor of fitness fondly dream;
All the fitness He requires
Is to feel your need of Him.
This He gives you, this He gives you,
‘Tis the Spirit’s rising beam.

5. Lo! The Incarnate God, ascended;
Pleads the merit of His blood.
Venture on Him; venture wholly,
Let no other trust intrude.
None but Jesus, none but Jesus
Can do helpless sinners good.

Friends, there is only one who is “Fit.” Jesus Christ is the leader who is in perfect shape. He is the perfect specimen of health.

However, Jesus Christ was found posted on God’s “Fat Board.” There he was, posted high on Calvary’s cross for all to see and mock. Naked he hung there as people pointed and jeered. Ultimately, he was booted off the team. How embarrassing! How unfair! And why did he receive such treatment? Jesus was unfairly penalized and posted high so that we — unfit and obese sinners — might not receive the sentence and condemnation we deserve. In a sense, a name and body swap occurred. His good name was placed upon our obese bodies, and his chiseled frame was found underneath our name. He was treated as “Fat” that we might be treated as “Fit.” Our body of work became his, and his body of work became ours.

Therefore, how should we respond?

Let us be thankful for not getting that which we deserve. As said before, all of us are fickle and unworthy disciples. Let us give Jesus much honor, glory, prayer, and praise today. Look what he has done for us!

Let us be humble. As we look in the mirror and admire our new selves, let us not commend ourselves for one moment. We are not those with sufficient work ethic that have result in our transformation. It is Christ alone who gives us our fitness. All applause must go to him alone.

Let us be gracious. If Christ has graced us who are so “Fat,” and has used us in his service, ought not we be equally gracious towards other “Less than fit” brothers and sisters. Despite our sinful obesity, Christ is using us. Therefore, let us be encouraging, and let us expect to see Christ use other “Fat” neighbors in his Gospel service. He uses poor people who do not measure up, and he does so all the time. Just take a look in the mirror.

Finally, let us be diligent and determined. Let us rest today and work out tomorrow. Why? It is because we desire to maintain well the gifted fitness he provides. Therefore:

  • Let us pray that earthly temptations will have less and less sway.
  • Let us pray that earthly relationships will compete less and less,.
  • Let us pray that our affections, eyes, and feet will consistently plow ahead.
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