Posted by: Jo | May 10, 2013

Spiritual Exercise

“Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is – his good, pleasing and perfect will.” (Romans 12:2)

image Where I live in Vancouver, Canada, we have the reputation of having more people involved in fitness and exercising than anywhere else across Canada. Thousands turn out to run the local marathons. In any given morning scores of joggers can be seen pounding the neighbourhood streets. Companies have installed gyms on their premises and workers are encouraged to use them. Many people cycle to work, some on special bike paths installed by the city, to keep themselves in good shape. Keeping fit is seen as a very desirable and worthy thing to do. Just recently I was looking at an ad in the newspaper for a local gym and it featured a before and after photo of a middle aged man. The before photo showed the man with flabby muscles, rather large stomach and a doleful look on his face. The second photo (hard to believe same man) showed a smiling young looking face with rippling chest muscles and trim tummy. The caption urged the readers that they too could be transformed like this happy man had been, just by signing up at the gym.

The ad made me think about a different kind of exercise and a different kind of “transformational experience”. Of course it is wise to keep our earthly bodies healthy and fit, but how often do we spend serious time keeping our spiritual lives alive and well? Paul in the book of Romans, urges his readers not to conform to the pattern of the world, but to be transformed by the renewing of our minds (Romans 12:2) Too often the pattern of the world with all its distractions and busyness does cause spiritual imageneglect. Our hurried prayer time often just has to do, as there are so many pressing chores waiting. We would love to spend more time studying and absorbing God’s word, but we are so tired at night and morning starts the same round of things that have to be done.

We are all aware that neglecting to exercise our bodies results in poor health. We also know that exercise releases endorphins within our brains and we experience the glow and the feeling of well-being that follows that brisk walk or that invigorating swim. The same applies for our spiritual life. When we neglect to be renewed and restored by spending time with the Lord our relationship suffers, but the other truth also applies. What a beautiful warmth encompasses us when we spend that same amount of time taking care of our spiritual well-being.

Just as the man in the ad was transformed, we too can expect, by taking care of our spiritual exercise, to see remarkable changes in ourselves.

“And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit” (2 Corinthians 3:18)

Teenagers often plaster their bedroom walls with film stars or sporting heroes, hoping to one day look and act like them. They would be willing to spend hours in the gym to achieve muscles like their favourite football star. We have the perfect model in the Lord Jesus Christ. What a beautiful promise is found in Paul’s words that if we are willing we can be “transformed into his likeness”

What could we possibly want more than to be like Jesus?

image Physical fitness brings results that prove we have been taking care of our bodies. Now we can run up those stairs that before meant lots of stopping on the way. The same applies to looking after our spiritual health. We begin to notice we feel more love for others. We find joy even in mundane tasks, we are more peaceful about the worries we are confronting. We are patient with others shortcomings. The more we strive to be like Jesus, the more the fruits of our labour are evident in our lives.

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control…” (Galatians 5:22 – 23)

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Responses

  1. Thanks for the good reminder, Jo. Brought to mind the story of one preacher (don’t remember who, Martin Luther or similar stalwart) who was reported to say “I’ve got so much to do today, I better pray an extra hour”
    The last paragraph pulls it together wonderfully. It is so peaceful, and the fruits are so evident when we’re seeking God with all our heart, it always amazes me that I let other things get in the way.

    Like

  2. You encourage us Jo to dedicate our whole beings to God, our bodies, our minds, our souls. Thank you, Jo

    Like

  3. Lovely, and thanks for the share! 🙂

    Like


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