Lifting the Weights

People treat their relationship with God like it’s a movie, something they pay a little bit of money for to entertain them for a little bit of time. No wonder many of us feel like we’re watching boring re-runs. No wonder many of us become lazy sitting on our couches watching, or entitled, since movies are made for our glorious entertainment. No wonder many of us are left doubting so much and not knowing what to do, like you just paid $10 to see a terrible movie with no one to even talk about it with after.

We need to open our eyes. God is not here to entertain us. It’s not a give-and-take thing; that’s religion. Instead, you were bought with a price. Glorify God with your body (1 Corinthians 6:20). Worship him by being a living sacrifice (Romans 12:1).

I wish Christians would compare their relationship with God more like going to the gym. It’s not easy. Sure, it’s refreshing and good for you, but it takes a lot of work. There’s no point in going once a month or even once a week to be honest. To get any sort of growth you have to keep at it consistently, and you’ll have to accept doing exercises you may not enjoy. At first. And if you go to the gym for the wrong reasons, it shows. That’s a lot like how an authentic relationship with God is.

It sounds like too much work to be of any worth, until you have been going to the gym consistently for years. Is it any less work? No. However, you’ll have grown in mind and body so much the fruit and benefit of the work will happily keep you motivated. All the heavy lifting has paid off and always will, so long as you keep investing.

The amusing thing is that God is far more than weights or any cardio routine. We marvel at what a gym can do to a man or woman who takes the time to invest, but how much more will God do to the servant that faithfully invests in him? Instead of doing power cleans twice a week for two years, go and invite your unbelieving friends and neighbors over once a week for two years. Get up early to pray five days a week for twenty years. Mentor someone once a week for five years. How much more will God do to your soul, your innermost being, than weights will do to your physical, decaying body? Didn’t Jesus say your soul counts for so much more anyway?

“His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence, by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire.” 2 Peter 1:3-4.

Some of us need to change the way we see God in our lives. Who serves who? Who puts in the work? Who gives grace, and who gets glory?

Time to go to the gym.

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Identity Crisis

Have you ever had your identity stolen?

Fortunately, I have not. I know some who have, though, and it is very devastating. Your whole life gets turned upside-down, there is a long process to come out of it, etc. Definitely not the most fun thing to do on a weekend.

But have you ever heard of someone giving their identity away?? I think we all do it more often than we admit.

Umm…What does this mean exactly? For people who believe in Jesus, their identity is in him. Their purpose for living, their satisfaction and reassurance of love, and the hope for the future. Those are just a few things that Christians find in Jesus — there is actually a really cool list of verses explaining what we are because of a relationship with God here. One verse I especially like reads as follows:

Colossians 2:10 – “Therefore, as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him, rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving.”

When we think about what Jesus did on the cross, it’s clear where we want our lives to go. It’s clear that we want our lives to be defined and identified in the person of Jesus. But we often trade that identity away for another one, and usually it centers around what we do.

That workaholic, get-results-now drive. It feels nice to accomplish things as planned, no?

The clothes you wear.

Our bodies. Ever seen those guys who are obsessively working out at the gym every day (perhaps more time is spent there than at home)? It’s no surprise that a lot of them go home and stare in the mirror all day. While it’s apparent their identity is in their bodies, many of them wonder why they can’t get a nice, long-term girlfriend. Ahh, another post for another day…

The FaceBook comments on statuses and wall posts.

How many views on your blog or site. The Holy Spirit really smacked me with this one this past week.

The type of friends you have.

The list goes on, but what’s sad is that the endpoint in getting your identity stolen and giving it away is the same. It’s devastating, life feels broken, and each day is depressing. This is because all of the identities we try to put on are imperfect. They don’t last forever, unlike God. Do you remember most of the FaceBook comments you received on that one status that one week during that one time? I didn’t think so.

Jesus is perfect, though, and we are made in his image. He made us uniquely, because he himself is unique. Therefore, our identity in him should be unique and far more wonderful than anything else! No wonder we’re told that we’re not of this world like Jesus (John 17:16).

So when we give that away for an imperfect identity, it’s like putting on a sweater for a Maltese. It’s the wrong thing! It doesn’t fit, and it just doesn’t look good (no offense). But no matter how much we try to look like Malteses throughout our days, Jesus still works in us and shapes our lives. No matter how much we change our identities, he remains unchanging. Not unchanged, but actively unchanging. He is constantly staying faithful to his Word, which stands forever (1 Peter 1:24).

God is stable and full of love. Do you really want to base your life on something else? The best part is when we are ready to put away some of the false identities we cling to, we can rest easy in who God is and once again realize that we are part of his family (Romans 8:15, Ephesians 2:19).

Are you having an identity crisis? What’s been your identity lately? Have you ever had yours stolen??