As I was reading my devotions this morning, I thought about the ways we have to work our spiritual muscles. If we want to be strong in Christ, we have to practice our spiritual workout. So, if we are growing in Christ, we are building our spiritual muscles. Maybe we even look like a really strong Christian, a weightlifter.
I thought about this image for a while, because I’ve never been a weightlifter. Even though I weigh a lot more than 90 pounds, I probably have muscles more like the 90 pound weakling. But I hope I have better muscle definition as a Christian. I’d like to think all the Bible lifting I do has given me some spiritual muscles.
The reason this thought distracted me during my devotions, is the devotions suggested that if all we are doing is building up personal spiritual muscles, we aren’t doing what God wants. God wants us to use our personal spiritual muscles to build up the church. Building ourselves up spiritually is no good if we are neglecting the church and making failing to make the church stronger.
Ephesians 4:11-13 reads:
“So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.”
Being a weightlifter spiritually while the church is a 90 pound weakling is not what God intended. He wants us to strengthen and build up the church so that others can get stronger. So that the church can have the witness he wants us to have in the world. Imagine a strong church, a church that really lived out the words of Christ every day. How could that church fail to make a difference in our sinful, fallen world?
Of course, it isn’t an either/or proposition. We can be strong, individual Christians in a strong church. In fact, strong churches have many people who are strong Christians. Being active in a church isn’t for the faint of heart. There are times when your feelings are hurt, or people ignore you, or things don’t go the way you want. Can you love people anyway? The church is the very best place I know for developing those strong Christian muscles we all need.
So, what are you? A weightlifter Christian or a 90 pound weakling? And how are you helping to strengthen and build up the church, the body of Christ where you are?