I remember it well. I was seated with some of the brightest and best seminarians. I admired many of them like any freshman girl admires the senior class cool people. The discussion was always heated. Differing points of theology tend to rub together to create sparks. During the height of the discussion, one of the more outspoken handsome cool guys disengaged, slid back in his chair in a relaxed position and said, “Look, we don’t need to argue like this—we’re not brain surgeons. What we do isn’t life or death.”
I blew up. “If you don’t think what we do is ‘life or death’ then maybe you should find a different vocation.”
Everything went silent. I was the Freshman. They were the Seniors. Awkward moment #211.
If I had any hopes of being included with the cool people at seminary, those hopes were over. I later heard through the grapevine the same cool people thought I took class too seriously and that maybe I needed to lighten up. I was crushed. I wanted to hang out and be included with them but my zealous nature for the gospel and the local church conflicted with their core value. I stayed true to my convictions. I had few friends in seminary. A reputation was pinned to me after that event I’m not sure I deserved. The loneliness I felt during my seminary years prompted me to develop a less adversarial approach. I sometimes wonder if that really helped me. Reflecting on it now, I think I lost my clarity and voice. I still want to be included with the cool people but the cool people seem to go in a direction I won’t go.
Disciples come in every size and shape. Every disciple follows a discipline. Each disciple takes certain things seriously. We can tell what is important to them by the way they live their lives and on what they spend their energy, time and resources. The Winter Olympics are right around the corner. Consider for a moment what it takes for an athlete to compete at that level and type of discipline required. Here is a great article about an American hopeful Mikaela Shiffin. You can read more about her here: https://www.outsideonline.com/2263506/dont-worry-about-it-and-youll-be-great-said-nobodyan American hopeful
So what does this have to do with being a follower of Jesus? I find some amazing similarities with faith and fitness. Both require discipline and training for the big events. I think we sometimes lose the vision of why we practice the spiritual disciplines. Yes, they are good onto themselves, but our spiritual strength, endurance and perseverance must develop over time. We will face greater threats, more nuanced temptations and we will be called to overcome greater obstacles as we mature in faith.
There is a clear outline in the bible for a Christian disciple in Romans 12. We will study this chapter for the January series titled Fit. My sincere prayer is the Holy Spirit inspires to practice your spiritual disciplines a little more robustly and you take responsibility for your physical health. Small changes over time reap great rewards. Sometimes the very best this life has to offer you is only a few adjustments away. Transformation is possible—if not for you, consider your influence on the next generation.
So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you. Romans 12:1-2 The Message