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Spiritual Athleticism

By: Mr. Rowan

Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” ~ Philippians 3:13-14

When we think of the Christian faith, one of the last things we think about is exercise, training, or athleticism. Rather, we tend to think of prayer, singing songs, and staying away from bad things. But the Christian faith is much more rigorous than this. The Apostle Paul, the man who wrote the letter to the Philippians, relates the faith to a race, in which he presses on in order to win! The word rendered “press on” in English is an athletic word, one that instills a sense of rigor, strain, and grit. In other words, he’s saying that he works hard to walk a faith that demands our full attention.

When we look at professional athletes, we don’t think to ourselves that we could just as easily do their job (or at least we shouldn’t think that), because they devote their lives to their craft! Ask Von Miller what he does to stay in shape for the season, the diet he has to maintain, the lifting schedule he commits to, the drill his coaches put him through. He’s the best for a reason, and it’s not just because he was born with talent. Why do we think that the Christian faith is different. If we want to follow Jesus, we have to devote our life to him, without holding anything back. We have to do what it takes to develop a strong prayer life, commit to knowing and learning scripture, deal with our patterns of sin, love people with the love of God when they don’t deserve it, and strategically share the good news with others. None of this comes easy. It takes work, training, and honing our craft.

Today, ask yourself what habits and structures do you need to establish in your life in order to “reach the prize” that Paul was talking about? And who do you need to invite to help coach or train you in these areas?

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