Dear brothers and sisters, pattern your lives after mine, and learn from those who follow our example.
Paul was utterly consumed with making Christ known. I wish I could have met him personally, but I wonder what I would have thought of him had I met him. His drivenness could have either drawn me in or scared me away. I expect he did scare some away, for in Philippians 3:18-19, he warns the Philippians against those who are "enemies of the cross of Christ." He says of these, "Their god is their appetite, they brag about shameful things, and they think only about this life here on earth."
Unfortunately, our churches are filled with such people today, and some churches seem to be founded on such principles, particularly those in which a prosperity gospel is preached. Even if the prosperity message isn't preached, we don't come down very hard on the god of appetite (for food or anything else). Our churches are often models of excess and we who are members are its disciples. We overeat, overspend, overstimulate and overindulge. I know I am guilty.
How would it be if during this season of Lent, I focused on simple eating and simple living? If I ate mindfully and in moderation, if I focused on what was essential and not on excess--in food, in purchases, in activities? If I really looked at all the evidence of my "worship" of the god of appetite and made an effort to turn away from that god? How would that enrich my Lenten pilgrimage?
Recently I read Pilgrimage of a Soul by Phileena Heuertz. She recounts an actual pilgrimage and how as she began, she realized she had overpacked. The excess weight slowed her down and made her tire more quickly, so she had to leave some things behind to be able to go forward. As I travel on my own pilgrimage through this season of Lent, may I do likewise. I want to pattern myself after Paul and after Jesus.