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Intentional



Spiritual Training Cycle: Foundation (wk. 10/13)

 

The gym was a transformative experience for me. As a high schooler who had never participated in organized sports beyond pickup basketball at the park, I felt betrayed that I didn’t discover weightlifting until my freshman year of college. I dove headfirst into the world of fitness, researching workout plans, studying lifts, and investing in various supplements. I was captivated.

 

Among my friends, I became known as the “fitness guy.” Comments like, “Don’t tempt Bruce with sweets,” or “Bruce, shouldn’t you rest for your gym session tomorrow?” became commonplace. While some remarks were flattering, others seemed tinged with intimidation. I often wondered if it was my persona or my lifestyle that intimidated them.

 

In hindsight, I jokingly refer to some of those comments as “fit shaming.” Ironically, some individuals felt alienated from the fitness community, believing they needed to change their appearance or habits before setting foot in a gym. At times, I found myself inadvertently pushing friends away when encouraging them to join me. 

 

It wasn’t until a pivotal shift occurred three years later when I really began to live my life for Jesus that I found out why. It dawned on me that, much like my delayed introduction to weightlifting, I had spent years unaware of the profound message of the Gospel and God's boundless love to rescue me from myself. My newfound faith prompted me to share my beliefs zealously, transforming me from the "fitness guy" to "the preacher." Some reactions were skeptical, while others expressed genuine curiosity.

 

Yet, sharing the Good News of God’s grace presented challenges. I initially believed people were unreceptive to the message of salvation. However, I soon realized it wasn't the content people didn’t like but the intent behind it. Drawing a parallel to fitness, critiquing someone's dietary choices or gym technique without empathy can be counterproductive. Similarly, within the church community, employing fear, guilt, or shame can alienate rather than inspire. The Bible emphasizes a gentler approach rooted in kindness.

 

Kindness is lending our strength to someone who needs it. Think of kindness not as a passive act but as a shift in intention. Just as we tackle health concerns, we must address humanity's deep longing for connection with God. Rather than avoiding conversations of the content found in the Gospel, we need to look at the intent behind why we are sharing it. Jesus bore our sins on the cross not to highlight God's disgust with our behavior but to demonstrate the immense power of His love and kindness to redeem us from it.

 

We need to have genuine conversions to be able to reach people with the Gospel that doesn’t stem from coercion or confrontations, but from compassionate dialogue. By fostering an environment rooted in kindness, we pave the way for meaningful conversations. I soon recognized that bearing the title of "the preacher" carried greater responsibility than being the "fitness guy." As followers of Jesus, our mission is to embody God's love and kindness. By prioritizing kindness, we may not win every debate, but we ultimately gain more hearts.

 

Questions for Reflection:

How does our kindness reflect the character of God?

 

What would it look like to share how God’s kindness impacts our own life?

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