How I made exercising more desirable

1 JohnThis week, a friend and I went exercising.  We would walk for a while, and then run for a while.  We are exercising, because we want a better life.  There are things in our life that are not the way we want them to be, and we believe that making better life choices will lead to a better life.

But as I study 1 John, I question the concept of self-improvement.  In 1 John, I only see two descriptions of lives. The first option is a life of one walking as Jesus did in the light and love of God and becoming righteous because Jesus is working on our behalf, and the second option is a life of one who loves the world and all of the darkness and evil that it has to offer.  And if you are not in the first group, then you are in the second.  There doesn’t seem to be a middle.  Often we think of life as a scale with one end being evil and the one end being good, and we consider ourselves to be somewhere in the middle, and we are striving to be closer to the good end.  According to 1 John, there are only two options.

I don’t like that there are only two options.  I know that I don’t want to be included in the second group, but I often don’t feel like I am good enough for the first group.  There are times that I don’t do all that God has command of me.  There are times that other people drive me crazy, and I fear that it would be easy to hate them.  Even after trying to follow Christ most of my life, I still sin.

But the great thing about these groups is that our position is not dependent upon feelings.  Those who are in God are in His light and are included in the first group.  It is that clear.

There is an interesting thing about light that I noticed while my daughter and I were playing with a flashlight in the darkness of the bathroom with the lights off.  Because we did not turn off the flashlight, the flashlight was consistently producing the same amount of light.  When my daughter would cover the flashlight, the room became darker.  When she would let it shine, it would seem brighter.  It wasn’t until she pointed at the mirrors that the room was bright.

We cannot make the light of God shine any brighter. Our only options is to cover the light, let the light shine, or reflect the light. For the most of my life, I have found myself being one of the Christians who try to make their own light, rather than realizing that light only comes from God.  The book of 1 John gives us a few clues how to live reflecting the light of Jesus. 1) We enjoy fellowship with one another (1:7). 2) We confess our sins, and receive Jesus’s purification (1:9).  3) We come to know Christ so that we can obey His commands (2:3).

Notice, I didn’t say we should obey all of God’s commands, rather I said we should know Christ who will transform us into obedient followers of God.  Many Christians get the goal confused.  We try to be on the good end of the scale of life, but that is impossible.  We must stop trying to be perfect, rather we should get to know the one who is perfect.

So maybe the next time I go running, I should run so that I can know God better, rather than to make myself better. Maybe the point of exercising should be to gain a greater understanding of God how strengthens us.  Maybe the point is to build perseverance so that I can persevere in my search for God. Or maybe I will just have to run more to understand what God is revealing to me through exercise.

My guess is that when I exercise to “know Christ better,” my attitude would be more Christ-like.  I wonder what other activities would be more interesting if I change my motivation to “knowing God better”?

Do you struggle with the wrong goal (being obedient rather than knowing Jesus)?  What daily activity should you do with the attitude of “how can God use this activity to reveal Himself to me?”  How would changing your motivation to pursuing God change your attitude?

Join the Conversation

1 Comment

  1. We must remember that any activity we pursue should bring glory to God. For you, it appears to be running/walking/exercise. I’m guessing you use this time to clear your mind and think about how to get to know God better and how you can glorify Him. By conditioning and strengthening your body, you are bringing Him glory. With the trials and tribulations He deals us, He also gives us the chance to let the strength we find in Him shine through. Strength to resist temptation, to maintain our faith, and resist the urge to sometimes just want to give up. For myself, it’s my crafts, my rocks, and my gardening. If I were to do what the doctors and some people around would be having me do, I’d be taking my meds, kicking back in my bed, and becoming a vegetable. Instead, I’ve opted for a little more physical activity, something where I can clear my head, and try to better understand how He works. I try not to forget to give Him the credit for all He has allowed me to accomplish as I seek, find, and admire the beauty of the end result of His works. Sometimes the work is ‘strengtheneous’ and I feel it at the end of the day, but it’s a warm ache that I feel, what I like to call ‘God’s aches’ because I know He’s making me stronger. He gives me the strength to do all this, and more. (Phil. 4:13 “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.”) If God is going to gracious enough to give me the strength to do all this, or anything for that matter, then the least I should do is do it the best I can, in a way that glorifies Him, and always remember, without Him nothing is possible; with Him, all things are.
    As far as not feeling worthy, none of us really is. We all sin. I like to think back to what Kevin taught me during my Peace Treaty with God, and that’s the part about God’s grace and mercy. (Grace being receiving something not earned, and mercy being not receiving punishment that should be due.) It is through His grace we receive not only His mercy, but also the strength He provides, and the ‘gifts’ (special talents/abilities) and blessings He bestows upon us. Any activity we pursue should begin with asking Him to guide you through it, and for the strength to get through it, and end with a prayer of thanks. God won’t always reveal Himself to you during an activity; that’s where faith comes in. If our faith stays strong, we will know it’s God’s will we are doing. By keeping our faith strong, we keep evil and weakness at bay. As Jesus told Thomas in John 20:29, “Thomas, because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed; blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed.” Sometimes faith is all we have to go on. Faith that God is the Almighty; He who was, is, and always will be; the creator of all. Faith that Jesus Christ is the Son of God; that He was sent by God to teach the word; that He died on the cross so we might be forgiven and gain entry into His kingdom for all eternity; that Jesus Christ is our Savior, and the way to The Father goes through Him; and faith that He is and always will be there with and for us.

Leave a comment

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: