Thursday, September 5, 2013

Do and Be Crossfit

Ok, so I haven’t blogged in a while and this is largely due to the fact that I’ve once again started my master’s classes in Theology which is mostly reading and writing…and I have to force time for that. Needless to say, my blog isn’t my top priority…so take that for what it’s worth.

I have, however been plagued with a couple of ideas on the Christian life that could easily be a year or more worth of sermons. Unfortunately, I don’t really have time to flesh these thoughts out into said sermons, so instead I’ll try and get the bare bones out here on my blog, so thank you in advanced for taking the time to read this.

Here goes…

For the last two months or so, I have been doing Crossfit or have been a Crossfitter or whatever you like. If you’re not familiar with Crossfit, feel free to watch this video. For me this is quite a spiritual experience and it's that idea that i'd like to really address here.

So, while I’m in no way, shape or form the strongest person alive, much less at my local gym (Cowley Fitness), I can definitely say that I am the fittest that I have ever been in my life; even more so than when I was a collegiate cheer leader or a Universal Cheerleading Association Staff Member and that is saying something.

So where am I going with this? Well, the name Crossfit (I believe) is about “cross fitness” or the idea that all aspects of fitness – agility, flexibility, strength, endurance, etc. –  find their intersection inside the kinds of work outs (known as “wod’s” or “work out of the day”) that are programmed for Crossfit. In short, every work out is a total body work out and improves every aspect of fitness simultaneously. For this reason, I’ve often found myself thinking throughout the day “wow, while doing Crossfit, EVERY physical task in life is easier”.

While I could stay here and plug Crossfit all day, that’s not really my main point...

So, while Crossfit is about being as fit as you can be (which I’ll get to a little later…perhaps in another blog) the name just rings in my ears as a theologian and I have come to the conclusion that, as Christians, we are called to be “Cross-fit”.

WOA! I’m not some fitness nut, but I love Jesus!

Hold on, I’m not saying everyone should do Crossfit (notice the hyphen/no-hyphen distinction).
As Christians, we are meant to be continually “fit for the Cross of Christ”. Jesus says in the synoptic gospels:

If you want to follow me, you must take up your cross daily and actually follow. If you try to hang on to your life, you’ll lose it, but if you give up your life for my sake, you will save it. And what do you benefit if you gain the whole world but are yourself lost or destroyed?       – (my paraphrase of Mark 8:34 & Luke 9:23 and following).
So let’s chew on this a bit:

1.    “If you want to follow me” – this is clearly a conditional statement. Assuming you are truly looking to be a Christ follower, i.e. disciple, then here’s whats up…but only if you’re wanting more than just weekly attendance and your conscience cleared for the week.
2.      “You must take up your cross daily and actually follow” – bear in mind that this is pre-crucified-Jesus that’s speaking here, so there is no “redemptive” or “salvific” context for the original hearers. What they hear is essentially “if you want to follow me, you must be shamed to the point of being dehumanized and this is going to painful and gruesome”. You can imagine their confusion…Now this is also clearly a metaphor, so don’t freak out.
3.      “if you try to hang on to your life, you’ll lose it, but if you give up your life for my sake, you will save it” – I’d like to put forth a slightly different interpretation of this passage than what you may be thinking. I think that this point is more about Christian living and less about salvation through Christ; that is, I don’t think that Jesus is giving some coded message for how to get to heaven, but is instead showing us that in order to live like Christ (i.e. follow), then you must order your life starting with Christ and his sake which is the good news that God loves and forgives.
4.      “and what do you benefit if you gain the whole world but are yourself lost or destroyed?” – This question solidifies his point that following him is about lowering yourself and being prepared to look ridiculous in front of people (remember the crucified were often buck naked) but the alternative –  that is, trying to hang on to your pride and gain some sort of status, security, “the whole world”, you know, whatever – is a lost cause because in as much, you will not be able to “save your life” or “really live”.

Now that is the quickest breakdown of that passage that probably exists, so bear in mind you could get a book out of this one passage and I’m not trying to do that here.

My point is that if we’re to be disciples of Christ and not just disciples of the Christian church or religion, it means remaining “Cross-fit” daily. So what does that look like? Well, I could attempt an exhaustive list, but I don’t think Microsoft Word has enough pages to cover it, so instead we’ll go back to Scripture for a good answer.

In the book of Mark, Jesus sheds light on the “main thing”:

Jesus replied, “The most important commandment is this: ‘Listen up, Israel, the Lord our God is the one and only God and you must love him with all your heart, all your soul all your mind and all your strength. ‘ The second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself’. No other commandment is greater than these. 
– (my paraphrase of Mark 12:30 and following).

So, let’s chew some more:

1.      The most important commandment – this means “listen up”
2.      Israel’s God is the only God – this means that we can trust that we’re talking about the real God as far as we can trust the Word’s of Jesus. This is a big idea, but I don’t have space to get into it here.
3.      Love God with all your heart – typically understood to mean your will and/or affections
4.      Love God with all your soul – I put forth that while we could theorize about what that soul is made of, we can generally agree that it is all the parts of you that are not the physical parts.
5.      Love God with all your mind – traditionally understood to mean your reason, logic, thoughts, etc.
6.      Love God with all your strength – contrasting with the “soul” part, this means all the parts of you that ARE physical.
7.      Second command: love people as yourself – pretty clear, but very hard to do
8.      No other command (including the big 10 from Moses) is greater than these – that is, these trump all others (though they are not mutually exclusive from all others).

Again, that was a quick run down, so I’ll zoom in on what is relevant to this blog post and we’ll do it in reverse order.

First, being Cross-fit (remember the hyphen distinction) means loving other people like I love myself. Now, you may hate yourself (and that’s a WHOLE other issue), but generally we all care about ourselves and to this extent, we should regard all others with the same care. This is vital, but not what I’m trying to get to – just know that there is much much more to be said on this point.

Second, being Cross-fit means loving God in four specific ways that all sum up to equal your entirety. I’ll make it into a neat package for you:

Love God with…
  • Your heart and mind – that is ALL of your will and affections and ALL of your intellect and reasoning. How do we do this? By continually working on lining our will, affections, intellect and reasoning up with the things of God; this means wanting and willing the things of God and it means spending time thinking and meditating on the things of God.
  • Your soul and strength – that is ALL of the parts of you that are intangible or non-physical and ALL of the parts of you that are physical. Now, typically we’re okay with the intangible – after all, no one but God and myself know exactly how much of my intangibles I have truly given to him, and this affords us the ability to maintain a superficial façade of piety and goodness. The trouble is the second half for most American Christians – leaders included, or rather leaders especially – because it’s convicting. We like our laz-E-boy recliners, our cans of soda, our chips and dip and our generally over chemicallized, over gmo’d diet. After all, “this is ‘merica”. The truth however, is that we are stewards of everything that God has given us (Matthew 25:14-30) which includes our bodies and according to Jesus, we are to love him with them by using them to do the things of God and keeping them in the best shape we can.

So, let’s conclude:

Being Cross-fit is the only way to truly follow Jesus and that looks like following his two greatest commands in their entirety. I can love people everywhere I go by showing compassion, not trying to change or judge them and simply being there with them (I know there are other ways, but these are some of the simplest). I can love God in practical ways as well by wanting the things he wants, meditating on him and his will for creation, by truly giving him all the non-measurable, non-physical parts of me and by loving him with my body by taking care of it as best I can and using it to do physical good in this physical world.

Again, I’d love to unpack all of this, but that would take a very long time….and I might yet do it. For now, however, suffice to know this:

If you want to be the fittest version of you that is possible, do Crossfit.
If you want to follow Jesus and live the only real life worth living, be Cross-fit.

Thank you all for reading.

The Dread.

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