Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Christian (trans)formation

Yesterday I took a break and went to the gym. I have been attending erratically over a few years, undertaking the same ritual of exercises – occasionally increasing expectations. One routine involves lateral pulldowns. Sitting down, I reach up for the weights and pull them down to my chin. Gradually I have increased the weights, and felt some progress.

As I worked away, a trainer interrupted me. “Do you mind if I say something?” he said, (already having interrupted!) “Not at all,” I replied. “Well, you are not using the machine properly. Do you mind me sitting down?" he asked. Replacing me, he explained, and modeled, how utterly wrong my stance was. "You need to sit upright with head slightly tilted, and pull down the weights vertically. You are pulling outwards and the weights just won’t help your muscles, " he said, while adding: “Probably, you need to decrease the weights as you try again.” Rather self-consciously I began pulling afresh. Yes, it felt completely different. Other muscles between my shoulder blades were complaining. “Now, it’s helping you properly,” he said.

I marveled at this appropriate reminder. Christian development doesn’t just happen. Old habits have to be unlearned and new ways of living need intentional development. To grow as God’s person, with others, requires time, consistency and commitment together. People do not learn to be forgiving, show grace or live with integrity without long-term shaping worship. And churches do not learn to be missionary communities without such worship.

This experience coincided with current work on how worship actually shapes people into belonging in God's community. Perhaps, I can post some ideas for your feedback?


Anonymous said...

His comments were humbling after you "thought" you were improving. At least you were working on it, and the trainer, not unlike our Lord, gave you patient instruction to show you how to effectively exercise your muscles. Our spiritual muscles need exercise as well and just like physical exercise, we never enjoy it until it is over and we see the result.

Anonymous said...

Are you speaking of worship as we call our weekly praise gatherings or are you speaking of worship as certain greek words are translated in the NT. I'm not sure how the former accomplishes significant change and I'm not certain that real Christian maturity (development) can occur without an accurate understanding of the latter.