Dodging calorie overload at church

Do you ever get the feeling that people are more interested in your wallet than your best interests?

Ads on television strike me that way. Yesterday, during footage of the Winter Olympic Games, ads frequently interrupted the games to entice viewers to buy this product or that service.

I know, that isn't news. That's what ads are all about.

Often I tune out commercials. I'm just not interested in most of the appeals to buy this and that. The appeals come from their desire to sell or promote their product or service. Most appeals aren't focused on you as an individual and what you want or need. Long ago I realized that and decided that I can't buy it all, and probably shouldn't. So, I try not to listen to appeals that really aren't what I want or need. That's healthy screening, and it is a good thing.

What about commercials at church?
How are we as smart consumers to respond? What if those ads are "dressed" in appeals to support deserving causes?

For example, yesterday was a major fund raising campaign to support youth summer trips, so tables near the weekly coffee service were loaded with overstuffed subs, chips, and baked items. All morning.

It stuck me that this was an oh-so-much-like-Pizza-and-Duncan-Donut commercials on television trying to sell me something I don't really need. With one exception. The bake sale at church was for a "good cause."

I may need to eat, but I don't need to eat all those calories. I really, really don't.

Today, after consuming more than I should have of those good-cause baked goods, I'm taking time to wonder what Jesus would think of calorie loaded fund raisers at church?

I've come to several conclusions.

For one, I don't think Jesus would have as much of a problem passing up the brownies as I do. But, I'm not sure he'd buy them. I don't think Jesus would have loaded up on all the calorie laden products on sale yesterday as so many of us did. That wouldn't have made him a bad person. Jesus would have prayed before he pulled out his wallet, and he would have exercised God-controlled spending. If led by God, Jesus would have found ways to show love and support for the youth. Maybe he would have bought a product or two. Maybe not.

Speculating on what Jesus would have done only partially helps me, because what I'm trying to decide is what God would have me do in this type of situation.

As I think about it more today, I don't think the bake sale event yesterday was in the best interests of the consumers -- the focus was on wallets walking through the door for a "good" cause.

I was one of those consumers walking into that market place in the church environment yesterday, and I didn't see much that I should have bought. I looked for Weight-Watcher-friendly food alternatives, and I didn't see much. Some of the chips packages, perhaps, since they had nutrition information.

I was thinking that as I canvased the goodies, but then I looked at all those eager youths behind the tables, wanting me to buy. Internal battles waged. The baked goods looked yummy. It was for a good cause. The youth are cool. Youth events are cool. I teach youth Sunday school. What message would I send if I didn't buy and buy a lot?

So, I bought more than I had intended to. I blew it. Again. But this time, I tried to console myself, it was for a good cause. I pulled out my wallet in the jostling crowd around the tables again and again, to buy a cake here, brownies there, chips on this other table, subs from this group. Oh, yes, we did buy a few bags of left over lettuce, too.

I wasn't fooled. My head knew something about all this just wasn't right.

Today, in retrospect, I think I'm one of those weaker members of Christ's body in the chocolate area.

Today, the entire situation is still on my mind, and I'm thinking and praying it through.

Did you know that an entire US state (I forget which) has banned bake sales at schools because of weight problems? That action along with yesterday's events causes me to consider: Is it good to support baked sales at church?

Not for me. Not at this point in my life.

What would Jesus have done?

Jesus probably would have stuck money in a bowl somewhere and passed up taking bags of baked goods to his car or bus or bike, whatever mode of transportation he'd use today.

Is a church bake sale really a God honoring thing?

I don't think so. Well, I mean, I'm not saying having a baked sale is wrong. What I'm saying is that good-cause bake sales pose a problem for people like me who don't need those calories. We don't need appeals to help the youth by buying or eating calories that we don't need. Those appeals hurt us in a weak area.

The Apostle Paul taught people to honor God in their living styles and their eating and to refrain from actions that cause others problems.

Baked sales cause me problems. As a smart consumer (no pun intended), I need to be careful in the baked goods department.

In the future, if I can't buy (and eat) baked goods in moderation, I think I need to avoid baked goods sales. Even at church. Perhaps especially at church.

What about you? What kinds of good-cause fundraisers can Christians support that have the best interests of an organization and consumers in mind?

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