When I started my master’s program in Christian leadership, I got to take my first theology class. Truth be told, I wasn’t overly excited about theology, the theology department, or any of my required theology classes. The reason? I didn’t recognize its value in helping people build spiritual fitness because I didn’t really know what theology was. I imagined these ivory tower professors sitting around debating things like how many angels could fit on the head of a pin. Boy was I wrong! Not just about my professors, but also about theology. It is foundational to the journey of becoming spiritually fit.
As a CrossFit coach, when you attend your certification course, you’re introduced to the methodology of the sport – mechanics, consistency, intensity. We train and drill this into our athletes because when we get them out of order, bad things can happen. Mechanics are the foundation to everything we do in the gym. Long before we load up a barbell and go heavy, we’re going to train the movement pattern for how we want to respond when we get under that load. That means tons of reps with no weight or light weight while getting feedback from coaches. Athletes need to be able to achieve sound mechanics and replicate them without being told. This is when you hear your coaches say something like, “trust the process.”
In spiritual fitness, theology is our “mechanics.” What you believe about God is expressed in how you live your life. That makes it pretty important to know what your beliefs are, how you got them, and how you support them. In the reading today, Jesus is preparing the disciples for His departure from earth. And not surprisingly, they’re struggling. But Jesus gives them assurance by saying that God would send another in His place – the Spirit of Truth. Chapter 14 in the book of John is absolutely pivotal to understanding how to build spiritual fitness. The Spirit of God, dwelling inside you, transforms your life. And no matter how much you pray, give, serve, fast, etc., if you’re missing the theological “mechanics” of the Spirit of God, those disciplines alone won’t prepare you for the intensity life will inevitably bring.
The best way to build a spiritual foundation is with others. Pray and ask God to bring someone into your life who has a firm spiritual foundation. Ask them questions like “when did faith first become real to you,” or “what does it mean to be saved by grace?” If you’re further along in your journey, make sure you’re investing in those who are newer to faith. Don’t think that theology is only for someone like a priest or a pastor or a professor. Theology is the foundation on which your spiritual life rests so make sure it’s mechanically sound.
Questions for Reflection:
How would you describe God to someone else?
What’s your process for getting to know God better?