Spiritual Training Cycle: Connection (wk. 9/13)
In high school, we had weight training as a class. In this particular class, we had our fair share of ego lifters. Ego lifting is the subtle art of picking a weight that is much heavier than anyone has the business of lifting and using every muscle in the body to get the weight up and down. If you’ve seen this spectacle before, you know how it starts, and you have likely seen how it ends. Young gentlemen tested themselves in the most important contest of fitness and male dominance, the bicep curl. Plenty of weight is moved with zero “gains” to be found. This act of ego lifting is going through the motion of the exercise, but failing to perform the pattern of movement in the way it was intended to experience real growth. We fail to grow when we perform the movement but don’t understand the intention of the pattern.
In our physical fitness, there is a significant transition that happens when we understand how to perform an exercise with intention. We set down the heavy dumbbell to perform a bicep curl and instead grab the lighter dumbbell. We don’t swing the weight up and down. We slowly control the weight throughout the whole range of motion while focusing on squeezing and contracting the muscle. This is the way to build muscle and grow. Two people can perform the same pattern but the one who recognizes the intention that goes with it will grow more muscle. We grow when we understand the intention behind the pattern.
We see similar things happen in some church goers. We witness people showing up on Sundays, singing the songs and listening to the sermons but they don’t see much change in their life. They go through the motions, but spiritual growth isn’t happening. Where significant growth happens is when they understand the intentions behind the patterns. ‘Spiritually fit’ people know how to apply proper intention to see more growth and experience deep connection with God.
Communion is an example of a spiritual pattern. Communion is a celebration of the new life found in Jesus. Unfortunately, many Christians miss the intention behind the pattern. In Mark 14, 22-25:
And as they were eating, Jesus took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to them and said, “Take, eat; this is My body.” Then He took the cup, and when He had given thanks He gave it to them, and they all drank from it. And He said to them, “This is My blood of the new covenant, which is shed for many. Assuredly, I say to you, I will no longer drink of the fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new in the kingdom of God.”
Judas was seated at the table with Jesus. Judas witnessed the pattern and even took part in it. He saw the same bread and wine, saw the same blessing, and saw the same example for what Jesus did with it. Judas received it and ate it. Judas went through the motion but failed to see the intention. The true intention is this; we bring our brokenness to Jesus; He speaks blessing into our life and He redeems us. He gives us a new life! Bring, bless, and redeem. This is the intention behind the pattern of communion.
When we perform a bicep curl, are we doing it for the vain ego, or do we wish to see the actual physical growth? When we participate in communion, are we just going through the motions, or do we desire to see real spiritual growth? I believe we can all experience genuine spiritual change when we treat Jesus’ pattern for our lives with intentionality.
Questions for Reflection:
What pattern in your spiritual life could you make more intentional? How?
In what ways is being intentional challenging?