Have nothing to do with irreverent, silly myths. Rather train yourself for godliness; for while bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come. ~ Paul, 1 Timothy 4:7-8
I’m always looking for ways to help stay in shape and fight the dreaded curse of pounds gained after a Baptist potluck. For the last ten weeks, I’ve been doing P90X, having borrowed it from my nephew who borrowed it from my brother. Granted I have not been diligent in sticking with the recommended diet, I can still honestly say, unlike some of the other popular workout fads, the X gets results—I’ve gained more muscle mass and tone than I ever did in several years at the gym, and recently picked up some workout buddies who are doing the same.
The trick is devotion and hard work. There’s nothing overly special about the workouts, all can be done with a collection of dumbbells and a door-frame pull-up bar. They simply give you a variety of moves. It’s intense, it’s sweat-producing, it takes time (usually an hour and a half each day)…and you gotta stick with it.
Here recently, while fully immersed in the “some value” of such bodily training, I’ve started thinking more in terms of training for godliness.
From talking to others, I have little doubt that my church stands in the norm for most of the Christian culture of America. We have a variety of people, some who are faithfully involved, and many others who are…there…sometimes. Most of the people in their 40’s, 50’s, and 60’s who have been going to church all their lives have never read the Bible in its entirety—and the parts they have read tend to be mostly New Testament to the neglect of the Old. I was at a Bible study recently where the group was in Matthew 17, and hardly anyone there had a clue that Malachi made a prophecy about God sending Elijah back to the people before the Day of the Lord, or that that was what Jesus referred to when he called John the Baptist the “Elijah to come.”
We advertise read-through-the-Bible-in-a-year calendars. You can do it in about 15 minutes a day, average reading pace. Most people don’t seem to have time.
Yet in our culture we are devoted—exercise routines, our DVRs filled with shows we want to watch, books we want to read, sporting events, hobbies, Fox News, and the list goes on. And like Paul said about bodily discipline, all of these can have some value. Unlike some more extreme Christians I’ve heard, I don’t think we need to throw the television out with the bathwater.
But what if we were actually more devoted to godly devotion—Bible study, prayer, and serving others?
At the Methodist church here in town, the pastor is leading a group of people through a “Bible in 90 Days” reading plan. Even though he doesn’t share my enjoyment of P90X, he affectionately calls this plan “B90X.” Now I believe there is a time and place for reading through the Bible in 90 days or 180 days, or a year or two years—whatever… but quantity of passages is not the overarching goal of my point.
If 45 minutes straight through the Word works one day, great; but also what about 15 minutes meditating on a paragraph and 45 minutes in prayer? What about 15 in prayer, 15 in Bible reading, and 40 spending time eating lunch with a shut-in at the nursing home? We could make up an infinite number of combinations and lists here.
The point is we seem to ignore Paul’s admonition to Timothy (if we even realize it is there). We don’t train ourselves well for the sake of godliness, though we’re busy training ourselves in a plethora of other ways. But if we as God’s people were devoted to God, day in and day out…if we as families put the emphasis on Bible study and prayer together as we do on going to sports practices…if we actually took the time and maxed out our spiritual muscles, how much more fit would our lives, our churches, and maybe even our culture be?
Something to think about… and to quote Tony from the P90X videos… “Bring it!”