First, choose a statement.
Yes. I jog, step or whatever gets me points on my Fitbit or keeps me in shape.
Sort of. I was when I was a kid.
Yes. I run in the rat race.
No. I am a couch potato cheerleader.
No. I exercise my brain (or knife and fork) instead.
Now, choose one of the above statements about your spiritual life.
Why? because the Bible challenges us to be trained athletes in living and sharing our faith, no matter what our physical and spiritual condition. The Letter to the Hebrews challenges us to “throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us” (12:1) But how do we train to be spiritual athletes?
- Consider heavy lifting. Open that big Bible. Call out loud to the Holy Spirit. Stand, then kneel, then sit, while you talk to Jesus. Spend a little time in God’s presence every day.
- Use those fingers to text, email or call a friend who is willing to share faith with you. Consider driving to a bible study or a Mass, because training works better when you gather with other spiritual athletes. And while you are at it, walk around the parking lot a few times.
- Leave your house each day on a search for someone who needs mercy, encouragement, or just a smile. Spiritual muscles atrophy unless we put them in the service of loving those around us.
- Take you spiritual skill set out in public, not to compete but to move in the Spirit, who synchronizes our talents. Open your mouth and your heart to share words of faith like, “GOD bless you!” or “I know God wants to help you!” or “May I pray for you right now?” Here is an example.
- Move toward the prize of eternal, pulsating life in God. Heaven is not a static, boring fairy tale. It is a dynamic participation in all the energy between Father, Son and Holy Spirit that has already spilled out onto our world and sweeps us up into a new creation.
Paul’s Letter to the Philippians sums up your call to be a spiritual athlete, “Forgetting what lies behind but straining forward to what lies ahead, I continue my pursuit toward the goal, the prize of God’s upward calling, in Christ Jesus.”(3:13, 14)