“Jesus Has a Fat Wife” or “Jesus Muscle” Matt Clayton On a recent trip to the doctor, you step on the scale and discover you have gained 20 pounds since your last visit. Is this a reason to celebrate? It depends, maybe you have been weight training and have put on 20 pounds of lean muscle and you are in the best shape of your life, or maybe you recently got a job at Krispy Kreme and have been doing too much “quality control.” Few people would celebrate gaining weight indiscriminately; this is why a host of products have given us the ability to check our Body Fat Percentage. From calibers to scales, these products shift our focus from our overall weight to the percentage of fat on our body. A scale alone does not offer enough information about our overall health. Why are pastors who are entrusted with the care of the church, also known as both the “body of Christ” and the “bride of Christ”, often only focused on church attendance, which is simply a measurement of the overall weight of the church? Our only goals are often focused on simply gaining weight at any cost! The church has been packing on the pounds for years and we now stand huffing and puffing at a crossroad. As we look around, the 30 and under crowd is largely missing from our ranks. Is this because they want nothing to do with the real Mission of Jesus or because they don’t want to join the holy fat rolls of attendance? Often those outside the bulge are more aware of how unhealthy and ineffective the get fat at all cost mission has been to the church. They desire a lean & mean mission for the church and they are waiting for someone to lead the way. They cringe at any discussion of church growth or church attendance because they know that a fatter church is not going to solve any of the real problems our world is facing. While they aren’t interested in just sitting around, they would jump at the chance to be the hands and feet of Jesus ministering to the needs around them. The essential question of the Fat Gospel is “where are you going?” In making the focus of the Gospel heaven or hell we have distorted the die to yourself invitation of Jesus into a dead-end movement of self-centeredness. The authentic question of the Gospel and the power behind real Jesus muscle is “who are you serving?” Jesus is building His Kingdom and the only way to join is to acknowledge that He alone is King, by dying daily to your will and power as you live every moment for His work of redemption to bring the “Father’s will to earth as it in heaven.” When we look around at the problems our world is facing, will we recognize that the church of Jesus Christ remains the world’s greatest hope and do whatever it takes to get healthy? More of the same is not going to help in this case; we have to be willing to move in a completely different direction. How can we trim the fat from the church? We have to get off that padded pew and start sweating! We have to stop trying to get people to come to church, and start inspiring people to be the church. When we raise the bar high above attendance we will watch the fat peel away while the ripped and bulging muscles of the Body of Christ emerge to serve the broken humanity around us with all of the power and love of Almighty God.