Training for the Big Event



Scripture:

1Tim. 4:6   If you put these instructions before the brothers and sisters, you will be a good servant of Christ Jesus, nourished on the words of the faith and of the sound teaching that you have followed. 7 Have nothing to do with profane myths and old wives’ tales. Train yourself in godliness, 8 for, while physical training is of some value, godliness is valuable in every way, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come. 9 The saying is sure and worthy of full acceptance. 10 For to this end we toil and struggle, because we have our hope set on the living God, who is the Savior of all people, especially of those who believe.

Observation:

Training in physical and spiritual self-discipline was a part of the discipleship plan for the Apostle Paul. Timothy was to take all that he had learned, apply it to his own life, and then serve as an example for others. The big event was transformational life in Christ.

Application:

This morning my husband and I went to gym. Don’t be too impressed, we simply go to walk on the indoor track but we usually have a lovely time of chatting as we get in a little exercise. While we are walking, we can see those who are intensely engaged in exercise, for we walk around all of the big equipment. There are those who are beating their bodies into physical submission and chiseling out a new shape and form for their lives. The scripture says there is nothing wrong with physical training, and we are actually admonished that it is of “some value.” 

Training for life in Christ includes a wholistic plan of discipleship. Far too often we have ignored the physical side of that training. The scriptures talk to us about the importance of fasting and spiritual discipline in relation to eating. Most people in the first century would not have been overweight because people walked everywhere they went, nor did they have the resources to overeat. The physical temptations that we face today are a result of the development of society and now we have an overabundance of products available to most people. That means that we must learn to be self-disciplined when it comes to the use of those resources, and this is a part of discipleship. 

It is of “some value” to be engaged in physical training but the obsession with health and fitness in some societies is turning our bodies into a god. While I enjoy going to the rec center to walk, I am amazed at the number of people who are there, training their physical bodies for hours on end. The next big event is a marathon, or a triathlon. Interestingly a recent article wrote about the increasing number of people participating in big events, and therefore the need to continually create something bigger, better, and even more challenging. It seems that we are looking for the big thrill and are willing to spend hours in a week, physically training our bodies for the big event. 

In contrast to the hoards of people I see going to the rec center, very few seem to want to commit to spending time at church. What Paul is telling us is that physical training is of “some value,” but “godliness is valuable in every way.” In other words, training in the virtues of Christlikeness are of much greater value than what we are doing with our physical bodies. The next big event is to become like Christ and this deserves at least as much attention as the next marathon. If we can go to the gym three to five times a week to work out physically, why can’t we make a commitment to come to church at least two to three times a month? (That’s now the definition of a regular attender) 

Training in godliness is a part of the discipleship process and calls for a serious commitment on the part of the trainer, and the one being trained. I would suggest that we need to take our discipleship just as seriously as we do our work-out at the gym. Pastors and spiritual leaders need to be just as prepared as the professional at the gym to take people through a vigorous work-out that will produce results. If we are not prepared, then we need to commit to the development of our own spiritual chops, because no one goes to a lazy physical trainer, and so why would anyone want to learn from a spiritual leader who is not disciplined? Then, those who desire to prepare for the big event of becoming like Christ must recognize that there is time, effort and commitment involved. Yes, the power of the Holy Spirit can and does transform our lives, but we need to participate with God in that transformation. We have to bring ourselves to the place where the work can be done! Just as we won’t magically get into physical shape while sitting in our lounge chair watching football, so we won’t grow spiritually by playing Christian music in our car but never going to church, opening our Bibles, or spending time in prayer. 

We should all be training for the big event, “For to this end we toil and struggle, because we have our hope set on the living God, who is the Savior of all people, especially of those who believe.” 

Prayer:

Lord, there are times that I am weak in my commitment to spiritual discipline. I ask you to help me to become more like you, and that I will submit myself to your training on a daily basis.  Amen. 

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