On my birthday it had occurred to me that for some reason people assume that as you get older you also become a more mature Christian. But you obviously haven’t seen me wear my Star Trek uniform to church.
The problem is that growth is associated with time. But if we’re not intentional, we could end up being that grandparent who worries; who offers no more spiritual wisdom and comfort to others than a Christian bumper sticker.
So what could prevent us from growing more? We can misunderstand God’s goal for our lives.
God has flat out said his goal is to make us like Christ (Rom 8:29) – This is called “sanctification” – “For this is the will of God, your sanctification” (1 Thess 4:3). And one major way He grows us is through trials (James 1:2-4, Romans 5:3-5).
Christ the Athlete, God the Personal Trainer
So think of Christ as the best athlete ever in a sport, like a Michael Jordan, and God the Father as your personal trainer who wants to make you like Christ. The Michael Jordan slogan went, “Be like Mike,” in our case God’s slogan is “Be like Christ”.
Christ is strong, humble, loving, patient, gentle and good. We don’t become like Christ by sitting around enjoying every pleasure life has to offer – you would become fat not fit. If God wants you to become more like the best athlete ever He will put you through workouts, through exercise. Lifting weights, running miles, doing things that essentially make you suffer and exhausted.
Workouts = Trials and Suffering
“Oh, I hate my job. I hate that my family treats me unfairly. I hate how my car keeps breaking down. I hate that Michael Bay keeps making Transformers movies.” If we know that God can use all things to make us more Christ-like (Rom 8:28-29) and we still complain, we would essentially be saying, “I don’t like how God can use these workouts for my good. I want the workouts to stop. I don’t want to be fit.” When we lose sight of God’s goal through the workout, we lose sight of Christ (which is God’s goal for us).
So what do we do now?
1. We have to thank God that He wants to train, exercise and grow us to be like Christ.
2. We not only should expect workouts, we must be excited about facing the workout because we know what the goal is.
3. During the workout, understand the particular traits of Christ God is growing in you so you can focus on them. Curls=biceps, annoying co-workers=patience (see Fruit of the Spirit, Gal 5:22-23)
4. Sit and think for a second, “What are the workouts God has me going through this week?” (what is annoying you? what are you not looking forward to? what is hard?) and answer these questions: Will you thank God for growing you through these workouts? What Christ-like traits is He working on? Will you mature or will you complain? When we know the goal of the workout, and that goal is Christ, we should get pumped about the workout.
The goal is worth more than the effort we expend in the workout. God’s goal for you is to… be like Christ.
Romans 5:3-5. Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us. Romans 8:28-29. And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son,
Take Time To Pray: Ask God to help you want to be like Christ and to be joyful for the workouts he brings. Today’s Fruit of the Spirit: Faithfulness. Faithfulness to workout with joy.