Exercising Your Faith Muscles
I went back to the gym yesterday to work with a trainer after taking a four month break from having someone tell me how to work out. I discovered that without having someone to tell me how to work out, (and to demand more of me during said work out) I was lousy at working out.
I also discovered that not working out at the gym resulted in some serious flabbiness, not only in my body, but also my mind and my spirit. When I was working with a physical trainer for nearly a year, I felt better physically, was sharper mentally, and didn't feel as old when I got out of bed.
Strike that, reverse it. I did feel old this morning when I got out of bed because I hurt... everywhere. But after I finished my workout yesterday and received a grudging "not bad today" from my trainer, who had fairly low expectations given my long absence from the gym, I felt fantastic.
I knew that morning would come and only a handful of ibuprofen and sheer force of will would get me moving again, but I felt great in that moment.
The longer I've been doing this whole stumbling-after-Jesus-thing with my life, the more I've realized how important it is to regularly exercise your faith muscles. Ha! Nice segue, right? But seriously, when it comes to your faith, if you don't work on it from time to time it can become downright flabby.
Christians in America have it fairly easy--despite what the mainstream Christian media would have you believe. Compared to our sisters and brothers in countries where Christianity is repressed, we've got it made in the shade.
But still, I keep hearing about how Christians in America are "persecuted." I wonder what a Christian in Iran would make of that statement, quite honestly.
We're approaching the holiday season, so I am fully expecting my Facebook feed to be filled with outraged people who are boycotting Target for not putting "Merry Christmas" on their marketing materials. I can't wait.
Shouldn't we be exercising our faith in other ways? Aren't there needs in the world that need to be met? People who need to hear the Good News? Aren't there ways that we can be bravely and sacrificially giving of ourselves and what we have to help demonstrate the kingdom of God to the world?
The Apostle Paul did not let moss grow on him, for sure. The guy was always moving, always taking risks for the sake of the Gospel. He was beaten on numerous occasions, had rocks thrown at him until he was nearly dead, was shipwrecked, snakebit... you name it.
He could have posted up in Jerusalem somewhere, content to write about how hard it was to be a Christian in the first century, but instead he decided to actually be a Christian in the first century. He exercised his faith to the point that he was very nearly at Olympian status when it came to following Jesus. But it still wasn't good enough for him.
He wrote in Philippians 3:12: Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me.
May you find the stamina and the courage to continue pushing yourself when it comes to our faith. May you never settle for less than, or a seat on the couch when it comes to following Jesus. May you strive for more, pressing on like Paul to take hold of the abundant life and incredible witness that you have in Jesus.
And may the grace and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you now and always. Amen.