What Would Jesus Lift?
CBN.com - A professional bobybuilder looks at the heart motives behind why we do what we do at the gym.
Observation From the Stage
Since turning pro in bodybuilding via the 2004 Mr. USA, I’ve gained a few insights into the world of fitness and bodybuilding. Namely that almost everyone gets into it because of some form of insecurity and/or vain-pursuit (ego/pride), often to find that after years (for the committed) and months (for the non-committed) neither is satisfied. That same self-defeating insecurity and vain goal/personal idolatry, is still sitting there in their mind and heart like the 180 pound dumbbells that gather dust because nobody can lift them. The heart of the matter and the question to ask ourselves is, “Who is your God?”
What are You Lifting?
Are you the person who goes into the gym thinking that “showing up” or better yet, “showing up and paying a personal trainer” is your way of proudly checking off two boxes on the fitness righteousness scorecard? Do you think that subscribing and diligently reading fitness or bodybuilding magazines will get you closer to your fitness goals? Showing up is a start and knowledge is great, but if it doesn’t become a lifestyle change it is useless. The same can be true with the weight we lift in our walk with Jesus.
It takes more than reading pithy “Pass this email on to 10 friends if you love Jesus” or Oprah’s latest book club selection on spiritual growth. It means getting to know the God of the Bible in a profound, meaningful way by wading into the deep waters of scripture and supplementing it with solid commentaries by the likes of Martin Luther, Charles Spurgeon and C.S. Lewis.
Gaining muscle or shedding those unnecessary fat pounds doesn’t happen by chance or by lifting light weight in a careless manner. It takes gut-busting effort to achieve muscle growth and conditioning. The same can be said for our faith. You cannot have faith in something you don’t trust and you can’t trust something you don’t know. God gave us access to know Him via the Bible. Get to know Him, so you can trust Him, so you can grow in the depth of your faith in Him and so by the power of the Holy Spirit you can live a transformed life!
What's Your Commitment Level?
Has your physique changed in the past 6 months? I see people in the gym training the same way for years-on-end with little to no change in their physique. They are literally taking up space, sweating on equipment and spinning their wheels. They are committed enough to do the same workout without results, but cannot overcome the idea of changing.
I see the same things with Christian believers who are lukewarm. They are committed enough to show up on Sundays, but unwilling to change the sin in their lives. They cling so tightly to the things of their past that it becomes difficult to leave them behind. Sin can become familiar for us. We perceive it as comfortable. Jesus said the burden to serve Him is much easier than being bound to the sin in your life. There is much freedom in Him. Yet we love to look back like Lot’s wife in the Bible and shackle ourselves to our past.
You simply cannot keep doing the same behavior, expecting different results. It’s time to let Jesus free you from your ball-and-chain, to leave that old training regiment behind and experience a new kind of growth. As Jeremiah proclaimed to Israel that they must reform their ways and actions – so must we!
Where's Your Focus, Men?
How many times do you see dudes lifting weight that is far too heavy in an attempt to gain bragging rights? Their form sucks and because the focus is not on growing the muscle, but on moving a given weight from point A to point B the result is an utter lack of progress or worse yet injury. This is the problem with vain, self-serving idolatry and the pride of those driven by ego.
The Bible says we are to run the race well, it doesn’t say we are to ensure we run faster than our neighbor. Run the race well! We all have individually unique God-given gifts and talents which we must not squander by wasting time comparing them to others. Time is short. The hour is at hand. It’s time to set aside the vain comparisons and focus on what we can do, individually. Be it in the gym or in the working out of our salvation. The focus must be Jesus not our own pride as we press on towards the goal.
Where's Your Focus, Women?
How about the women who slave over cardio equipment while wearing scant training attire with a two-fold goal of overcoming a past insecurity? Goal #1: Overcoming the insecurity left behind from a past loser boyfriend who cheated on her with a “slimmer” woman. Goal #2: Gaining the attention of other men in the gym by sexually suggestive workout clothes.
I have three daughters, ages 10, 8 and 6, which I love and adore. I’m constantly telling them how valuable, important and precious they are to me. The last thing I want is to instill some insecurity related to their personal value which they try to fill later in life by jumping into a relationship with the wrong guy simply because he says he loves them. Sadly many girls do not grow up hearing this from their fathers and it leaves a deep scar and insecurity.
Like a gold ring in a pig’s snout, such is a woman who shows no discretion. This is the Bible phrase that pops into my head every time I witness the woman wearing the suggestive workout clothing to gain attention. Women focusing wrongfully on corrupted goals to overcome past insecurities have a Heavenly Father who created them with dignity, value and worth. He chose to love them from before the foundation of the world. They don’t need to seek the approval of worldly men, but the approval of God.
Get Weighty With Commitment and Focus
When it comes to the weight we lift, our commitment to change and where our focus lays, the root question leads back to, “Who is our God?” Is our physique or our workout a form of a functional savior that if we can just achieve a certain level of fitness it will break our past insecurity or fulfill our ego-driven goal, thereby making our lives joyful? The remedy and answer is the same for all the aforementioned questions – Jesus. He is the person whom we should seek to understand in weighty terms. He is the person in whom we ought to place our commitment. He is the person in whom we should focus. When our eyes are fixed upon Him we are able to run the race well, fight the good fight and persevere to the end. When we do that, one day in eternity we will hear God tell us, “Well done… good and faithful servant.”
From Faith & Fitness Magazine Feb/March 2009. Reprinted with permission. Copyright © 2009 Faith & Fitness Magazine and Lifestyle Media Group.
Faith & Fitness Magazine is a lifestyle resource to build physical and spiritual strength. It helps readers make connections between the Christian faith and the fitness lifestyle. To contact the publisher of Faith & Fitness Magazine, Brad Bloom, for reprint permission, e-mail [email protected].