By now, I’m sure you’ve heard that former Subway pitchman, Jared Fogle, has reached a plea agreement with prosecutors that will send him to prison. His crimes include possessing and distributing child pornography and having sex with a minor.
You probably remember Jared as the guy who reportedly lost 245 pounds in less than a year, going from 425 pounds with a 60–inch waist to 180 pounds with a 34–inch waist. He did it by eating almost exclusively at Subway. That kind of story is incredibly compelling, and it was tailor-made for Subway’s marketing department. Jared became the pitchman for the sandwich chain and he became wildly successful. At the height of his popularity, Jared was worth over $15 million.
He was a hero to a whole lot of people. He was a pop culture icon. In many ways, Jared was an American success story.
But it all eventually unraveled. He is now accused of sexual crimes, including distributing child porn taken with a hidden camera. He is also accused of flying from Indiana to New York and paying minors to have sex with him.
Now that all of this has gone public and he has entered a plea agreement, he is looking at a guaranteed prison sentence. Subway has dropped him as their spokesman. And his wife is seeking a dissolution of their marriage.
That’s a pretty long way to fall, and it all happened because Jared became healthy on the outside, but not the inside. His weight loss brought him more than just health. It brought him fame. It brought him fortune. But the brokenness of his inner life was left unchecked. And when our brokenness is left unchecked, we are capable of unspeakable evil.
This blog post is not meant to make light of Jared Fogle’s situation in any way. However, it’s hard to deny the warning signs that we see in his life. It is deadly to focus on the external, but neglect the internal.
But that message is often hard for us to hear, because we live in a culture obsessed with the external. Weight loss has become big business. The diet industry in America rakes in well over $20 million each year.
Plastic surgery, once thought to be taboo, is now mainstream. People are waiting in line to be nipped, tucked, and lipo-sucked.
I was watching TV the other day, and I noticed how many of the commercials were pitching products and services designed to improve our external appearance. There were a ton…everything from a cream designed to stop wrinkles to hair volumizer to hair coloring that is ‘just for men’ to a product designed to plump up your eyelashes. (Apparently fat eyelashes are awesome. I didn’t know that.)
It’s obvious that we live in a culture that worships the external. Jared Fogle cashed in on that culture. But his fame and power have now cost him everything because, while his exterior was healthy, his inner world was very dark. And when our inner world is dark, it will eventually come to light in our outer world.
The warning signs here are crystal clear. If you’re more concerned with losing weight than nourishing your spirit, you’re in trouble. If your workout is more important than your soul, you’re going to crash and burn. If you are consumed with how you LOOK but you ignore who you ARE, there are really bad days ahead.
This is why the gospel is so beautiful. Jesus heals us and changes us from the inside out. It starts in our heart and in our soul, and then it works its way out to the exterior. When you read the gospels, you see that Jesus said next to nothing about our outward appearance. But He spoke volumes about our heart.
The outside stuff that we focus on so much is temporary. Very temporary. The plain fact is, we’re going to get old. We’re going to lose hair and gain weight. We’re going to get wrinkles, crow’s feet, age spots, and the like. And contrary to what we might want to believe, there’s not a diet or cream or pill or whatever that can stop it. But if Jesus is renewing us on the inside, it doesn’t matter what happens to us on the outside.
Like the Apostle Paul said, “Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day.” (2 Corinthians 4:16)
If Jesus isn’t renewing us on the inside, then nothing that is happening on the outside makes any difference.
So go ahead…enjoy your workout. Eat right. Enjoy your kale smoothie (if you’re one of those weirdos who are into that kind of thing). But don’t worship at the altar of the exterior. It’s a false god. And like every false god that we worship, it has the power to destroy you.
Jared Fogle wasn’t the exception. Neither am I. And neither are you.
Mike Edmisten is Senior Pastor at Connect Christian Church.