Decidedly Academic. Distinctively Christian.
Written by Chris Lewis, Lead Pastor of Foothill Church
3 years ago I started running. I don’t really like running. But I like getting old and out of shape even less. So I had to do something.
Last year some friends from church opened a fitness studio in Glendora, and my wife, Michelle, and I started lifting weights twice a week. I am exhausted and dripping with sweat every time I leave there (sorry for the mental picture).
But the longer I workout, the more parallels I see between my physical and spiritual life.
Here are my top 10:
1. I’ll never “arrive”. Exercise isn’t a destination. It’s a journey. If you think you’ve arrived, just stop for a few weeks and watch what happens (it isn’t pretty!). It’s the same with the Christian life. Paul never stopped “pressing on” and “straining forward” toward the goal—“the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 3.12-16)
2. It doesn’t get easier. I honestly thought it would, but I’m out of breath every time. My body adjusts to one level and then pushes to the next. And God is always pushing me into deeper waters where I have to live by faith and not by sight.
3. It takes sacrifice… but it’s worth it. Certain comforts have to go. Time has to be carved out of my schedule. Money has to be allocated. I have to say “no” to some good things in order to say “yes” to better things. The Christian life is no different. Jesus requires nothing less than full body sacrifice for Him (See Romans 12.1). We must take up our cross and follow him. We must let go of many comforts, carve out time, give of our resources, but it’s worth it. “The sufferings of this present life are not worth comparing to the glory that is to be revealed to us.” (Romans 8.18)
4. Somedays I do it even when I’m not feeling it. Can I be honest? That’s most days of working out for me. I’m not feeling it when I tie my running shoes or walk to the gym. But anything worth doing is worth pushing past momentary feelings. If we only do what we “feel” like, we’ll do very little of value, and almost nothing of eternal value.
5. It has to be a priority or I won’t do it. It’s not a question of WHETHER you have priorities, but WHAT they are. If you don’t know, just look at your calendar or your bank statement. If my physical health wasn’t a priority, I’d never workout. I’d skip class. Skip my run. I’d find all kinds of excuses why today wasn’t a good day: too cold, hot, sunny, cloudy, smoggy, busy, etc. If my spiritual health isn’t a priority, then any excuse will derail me. Church, prayer, fellowship, and listening to God’s word will all take a back seat to my real priorities.
6. It’s good to add more weight to the bar and more distance to the run. I didn’t say it was fun, but it is good. It’s that strain that produces strength and endurance. And in the Christian life, “We know that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope.” (Romans 5.3-4)
7. I’m stronger than I used to be. I’ll never be ripped like Captain America, and I’ll never run like an Olympian. But I’m stronger than I used to be and I have a lot more endurance. Jesus said that when the seed of God’s word lands on good soil, growth happens . . . always (see Mark 4.1-20).
8. I need people ahead of me and beside me. At our gym you work out in groups with a coach. I need that. The coach watches my form to make sure I’m getting the benefit of the workout and won’t injure myself. The others in the class challenge me to keep going and work harder. The Christian life is a community project. We need leaders who help us know what to do and companions who will encourage us along the way.
9. God gets the glory for all of it. God didn’t make us to be idle. He wired us to sweat and exert and strain and work hard. And yet, I couldn’t exercise without the grace of God and I would never grow spiritually apart from His enabling grace. Sometimes (most times!), I don’t like working out, but I’m always thankful that God has given me a body that still works. Sometimes, I don’t want to read my Bible, pray, or go to church (and I’m a pastor!), but every time I’m thankful that God gave me the grace to do it.
10. Physical health is good, but spiritual health is better. “Train yourself for godliness; for while bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come” (I Timothy 4.7-8). I’ll do physical training as long as my body cooperates. But I’ll “train for godliness”, by God’s grace, until the day I die because it makes promises for me, not only for today, but also for eternity.
Join me at Foothill Church this Sunday as we gather TOGETHER to TRAIN for godliness.