I’m in the gym again. It’s another shot at better health and an improved quality of life. It’s also about being a good steward of my health which is one of the greatest gifts God has given me. But while there I have noticed a few lessons that help me understand the worship better. I hope these will help you too.
1. The people in the gym need to be in the gym; the same goes for the worship. I’m one of those people who desperately needs to be in the gym everyday of possible. My health is such that I really can’t afford a day away. There are many people just like me. We are weak, struggling and just trying to keep our head above water. People in the church are the same. They grow when they are in worship. Their spiritual lives improve because of the presence in worship. It’s like working out. When you miss one workout session you lose ground. In the same way, missing worship causes you to take a step backwards in your walk with Jesus.
2. Everyone in the gym is different; people in the church are different too and that’s ok. This was a hard lesson for me. I was melting into a pool of sweat on the treadmill while two guys in their 70’s were on the elliptical machine (a demonic device) going fast and carrying on a conversation. A young woman without an ounce of fat on her body was doing rapid sit-ups with her feet up in the air! Of course, I suspect they were once exactly where I am now. In the church, we are all at different stages. Some are scholars and wise sages while others are new and green. Differences are to be expected and speak loudly to the growth of the local congregation.
3. Monster muscles prove that persistence pays big dividends; persistence builds a bigger faith too. There are a couple of guys in the gym that have such large chest muscles I’m not sure they could clap their hands together. Others have massive biceps – guns they call them – that struggle to fit inside a shirt sleeve. But these people didn’t get to where they are by laying out. They came to the gym day after day and worked to build their muscles. Church folk need persistence as much as anyone. Have you ever seen a devout faithful Christian handle a personal catastrophe with grace? Have you ever noticed that the storms of life do not blow the wizened sages off course? It’s because they have worked to build their faith. They have strengthened their core to withstand trouble. How? They never quit and they never gave up. They worshipped when they didn’t feel like worshipping. They rejoiced when there was no joy inside. The fellowshipped even when they were saddened or embarrassed. They didn’t quit!
4. People are in the gym because they wanted to be in the gym; church folk are in worship services because they want to be there. For me, the hardest piece of equipment in the gym is actually not in the gym at all. It’s the sidewalk outside that leads from the parking lot to the front door of the gym. That’s right. It’s the two dozen or so steps from the car to the door that must be conquered every day. But I have noticed that once I get through the door I am suddenly glad to be there. No one forced me to go but I am sure glad I went. People who are strong in their faith know that community worship, fellowship, communion and Bible study are all essential to their lives. Sure, there are times you don’t want to go. But we go because we want to grow.
5. Some people are in the gym just for show; some people come to worship just for show. I just don’t understand the young woman who comes to the gym to workout and sweat with perfectly applied makeup and tight fitting tights. Likewise, the middle aged man who keeps fixing his comb-over after every routine. These people are there to be seen (ok, I am judging motives but don’t you agree?). I am afraid there are some in the church who show up to be seen and praised. We all need encouragement but some people do seem to come and make great demands on the church while growing and giving precious little back to the body of Christ.
Now here’s the point: It doesn’t matter! You see, I still need to be present. I still need to grow. I still need to develop. Their actions only affect me if I let them.
You will never fully grow and develop as a Christian if you stay away from worship. Every single service you miss hurts. The reasons or excuses are irrelevant. You miss – you lose. So blame it on the weather, blame on the preacher, blame it on whatever. But just like exercise unless you do it you will not grow.