By Brad Bloom
The fitness scene is crowded with zealous believers. They’re passionate about great health and strong bodies. For some of them, fervent might even get fanatical. How about you and your faith? Do you dare to share?
Perhaps you’ve noticed. If you haven’t, allow me to state the obvious: the world of fitness is full of audacious personalities. They are people that look good, make bold statements and are fully invested in what they believe. Bill Philips’ Body For Life helps you “become the person you’ve always wanted to be”. Those marketing Advocare confidently proclaim, “We build champions.” Over at the Jane Fonda community you can access the “best selling workout programs” by a “veteran actress, activist and fitness fanatic.”
Who will be the next Richard Simmons? Well just “Sit Tight” because someone with a new hair-do will be preaching at you soon.
In today’s culture hardly anything seems to be too far-fetched. No fashion statement is too reveling, no song lyric is too profane, no protest is radical enough, no lifestyle is to be questioned and no-one is to be marginalized --- except Christians. If Christians’ value is seen as insignificant, their thoughts and contributions perceived as having little importance, and they lack influence among others it is by their own doing. "Fitness Is My Witness" photo courtesy of Kim Dolan Leto. "Sit Tight" photo from Richard Simmons website.
The disdain for Christianity is intense. Not surprising, there are many that identify as Christian that keep silent. If they were in a group-exercise class where everyone was doing a push-up but calling it a sit-up they wouldn’t say anything different. They cower when given the opportunity to be confident. If someone asked them for help lifting a heavy weight in the gym, they’d apologize, say their not strong enough and go see if they can find the attendant on duty to help instead. They downplay what distinguishes them in favor of attempting to blend-in with others. It is like having an amazing physique to help and inspire people but instead acting like they are still too fat and out of shape, so they just stay focused on their own self-improvement only.
The truth is, many Christians have a basic awareness of the faith but they lack understanding. Worse, they lack the commitment to mature and practice their faith. And – worst of all, they’ve lost the joy of their salvation. They know they should exercise and may even hang out weekly at their spiritual fitness facility (church). But, they’re totally content to remain out of shape and unhealthy. It is time for some really serious training if Christians are going to believe in God enough to BE Him.
In his June 5, 2015 post, Raising Champions For Christ, Gary Thomas, author of Every Body Matters, says, “There is a palpable hatred. If you raise a nominal “believer,” he or she may well be gobbled up in this onslaught. My parents could prepare their kids for a fifty-yard dash, spiritually speaking. My generation needed to prepare our kids for a half marathon. Those of you with young kids? You need to prepare them for an ultra-marathon mud-run and obstacle course in driving rain. We need to double down not just on the ‘decision’ to believe but on discipleship.”
If you’re going to believe in God and recognize Jesus as your source of strength, then you need to have the guts and perseverance to grow in the knowledge and come to a deeper and fuller understand of this faith. AND – if you’re going to do that then you need to resolve that you’ll have the presumptuous grit --- the audacity to defy any personal tendency to be lazy, indifferent and fearful and instead “preach it!”
HOW OUTLANDISH IS JESUS?
In our informed, enlightened and technology advanced world, believing in God and Jesus as the Son of God is… well… preposterous! Truth be told it’s always been undeniably daring to be a disciple of Christ.
What does it mean to have faith in God? Pastor Rick Warren says, “Faith in God means we rely on Him and depend on His reliability. Having faith means realizing that God is bigger, greater, and better than me – and he loves me greatly.” Having faith in God may be less unbelievable when faith is reframed in an understanding different from “faith vs. science”. Instead of each being used to disprove the other, we can see that both are companions to each other. Science makes one assumption - that the universe obeys a set of rules. Having a reliance on God recognizes God as the creator of these rules AND the origin of grace and love. From a fitness perspective making Jesus part of the physical experience doesn’t mean you can skip the workouts and proper form or expect a healthy body without a disciplined diet. Rather, faith gives fitness a greater purpose – a better context for doing it in the first place and a much deeper motivation for continuing long term … right on into eternity.
Audacity is about getting past the, “Oh my goodness can I be brave enough to live this faith in front of others and share Jesus boldly” and instead have a passion to give others MORE: more strength beyond the physical weakness, more hope beyond the emotional discouragement, more options beyond the technical limits, more grace beyond the boundaries of sin --- more of life in every way.
It’s time to have courage, be brave and embrace a boldness in your physical fitness and every other aspect of your life. Having faith is about having the audacity to believe it and preach it.