Pyramids and paradoxes
by Terry Camsey, Major –
Have you noticed that the more options you have, the more difficult it is to make choices? This is true in many settings but, it seems to me, particularly so in some restaurants where there can be up to 40, 50 or more selections on the menu. These offerings usually, however, appear to be an infinite variety of permutations based on relatively few pre-processed and pre-frozen items. Blah!
If there is only one set choice then there are two options to choose from. Take it…or leave it. With two options, you can always compare the one with the other and decide which you like most. If that proves difficult, try asking which one you dislike most. That will often break the stalemate (or stale meat, as the case may be!).
But, with myriad options the choice is more difficult unless you––like me––have some firm favorites that sway the decision every time.
Of course, a number of other things may impact your choice, even if some item appeals to you. Cost, for one. I am sure there are offsetting benefits but, when I explore a menu before entering a restaurant and see a large plate with a little pile of “stuff’ in the middle of it and an excessive price asked, I simply cannot bring myself to spend that kind of money. It’s the large cash outlay, for insufficient food to satisfy my body, that makes the choice for me. So the assets I possess and potential personal satisfactions I perceive are in the mix when I make my choices. That means, of course, that I do not always make choices that are beneficial to my body.
The government––bless their cotton socks––or more likely silk socks, based on what I think may be their preference for comfort and budget for cost––has tried from time to time to come up with a food pyramid to guide us in our choices. Have you seen the more recent one…six categories (more choices) now: fats and sweets, milk group servings, meat group servings, vegetable group servings, fruit group servings and grain group servings.
I say to guide us in our choices, but the reality is that a balanced diet for the human body includes all the food groups. Yet, not in the same proportions for every person which, they tell us, depends on age, gender, and how active we are. And they do allow options within each food group. Nevertheless, it is a guide and one which attended to (especially not neglecting exercise and staying active) can help us to become as fit as we can be.
Interestingly, the concept may have a direct application to the spiritual body which is the church. If a group of people in the same room were to become as fit as they possibly could be, the regimen of exercise and diet would be different for each one, depending on their present state of health. A one-size-fits-all regimen would not do the trick. And yet, how many years have denominations persisted in trying to make that a reality, regardless of the individual fitness of each corps, its assets (human as well as financial), preferences and urgent priorities?
Perhaps we should have a “spiritual food pyramid” to guide corps in healthy choices to enable the body to become as fit as it possibly can be, based on its individuality––including the external environment (including community) in which it finds itself.
If we did, could we not do better than to go back to the pattern of the early church described in the book of Acts…a church that balanced worship with outreach, nurture, pastoral care of the body and physical needs meeting. It was a “spiritual food pyramid” that produced remarkable results, as the church added to its numbers daily (that’s at least 365 converts a year!) and rapidly spread throughout the known world.
Did each church follow exactly the same program mix in order to fulfill each role? I don’t know, but I imagine that the burden of ministry each accepted was indeed closely related to the assets (financial and human) that it had––assets which grew consistently and enlarged the kingdom. This while ensuring that no vital role (worship, outreach, nurture, pastoral care of the body and physical needs meeting) was neglected.