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Unified as One

By Bruce Sampson

Spiritual Training Cycle: Presence (wk. 5/13)

In the sport of fitness, CrossFit athletes from all over the world compete in one of the most unified competitions done around the world. It’s called The CrossFit Open. No matter if you’re a seasoned veteran, a part-time fire breather in your morning class, or someone who daily quotes “It’s just a part of getting old” in every workout, The Open was made for you. I’ve seen more personal bests, friendships, and fist bumps of encouragement come from The Open than in any other time in my seven years of CrossFit. It’s truly inspiring and unifying.

People love being unified. To know we are accomplishing the same mission, to be a part of something great, to share common interests and enjoy the company of those we love. Unity gives us a sense of belonging and purpose. Without it, we can find ourselves lost and desperate for something more.

Though unified by one leaderboard in the CrossFit Open, not everyone that competes has the same results. It can be disheartening to see you haven’t made the progress you thought you would make in a year. When you can’t go RX (prescribed) on the workouts it can feel pointless to try and attempt for a score that “wouldn’t count.” If you tried year after year to get to the level of athletic achievement as every other competitor who’s made it to the next step, but you fail, you are left stuck in a place of frustration. We can easily find ourselves losing sight of the positive outcome of unity by getting lost in comparison, achievement, and personal gain.

Often in our best efforts to find unity, we encounter division. These divisions can start within us with our own personal standard, or it can lead to divisions amongst others. Good and pleasing things made for unity like our workplaces, our gym communities, and families can turn into internal conflict, insecurities, or hurt. What’s in our human nature causes these things to come to the surface.

The Bible describes the state of our nature in Ephesians 2:1 as being “dead in [our] trespasses and sins.” This comes as a result of living for the passions of our flesh, meaning we take what looks good, feels good, and gives us control. What makes unity so difficult is that when everyone is living life for themselves, in the end, no one is unified at all. While we see the same leaderboard, just like The Open, we have mixed results.

In the leaderboard that makes up our lives, we are all in an individual competition to the top that inevitably leads to the bottom. We can be competing for the lifestyle we’ve always envisioned for our families but fall to the demanding workload that causes us to lose time with them. We can compete by means of diet, exercise, or attraction for the sake of being healthy but deep down we can still struggle with our body image. Even if we feel like we are not competing in the race we are lost in the middle with no way to tell if there’s a race, so we do nothing and spend most of our days just getting by.

“But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ.” You see, when we put our hope in Jesus, He competes in our place. Not only does he compete on our behalf, but He claimed the victory! Jesus took on flesh, like ours, to do what we could never do on our own. While we look to the top of the leaderboard as the center of our focus, Jesus saw the bottom. By making himself low and taking on the form of a servant, he chose death on a cross for the sake of our sins so that we may be made one in Him.

For He Himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in His flesh the dividing wall of hostility... Ephesians 2:14

This is what it means to be unified. It’s to have peace. It’s through the peace that Jesus gives us alone that makes us whole, that makes us one. If you are far off the leaderboard, if you are struggling to find where you fit in, if you’ve been tired and weary from performance, Jesus gives you His place, His peace. The mixed results are now unified into one.

I know this sounds offensive to some who are competitors who have worked hard to get where they are. How can someone else who doesn’t deserve to be where they are receive this gift from God? That’s the point. Jesus died for us when we least deserved it! Having the humility to know this allows us to continue to receive God’s grace. For it is by grace we have been saved and it is by grace that we have peace with God.

This peace allows us to give everything we’ve got on the leaderboard knowing that our true place is already secure in Christ. We can have the peace to make mistakes because God’s perfect plan included my imperfections. Knowing the peace of Jesus unifies us makes Him our focus so that we can focus less on ourselves to love others more. The peace of God gives us the glue that binds all things in unity under Him.

If you’re stuck trying to find your way on the leaderboard, just know that Jesus wants to offer you peace today. We can have the peace to compete without comparison, without fear of others in the lane next to us, and without a fear to fail because of the victory Christ has already won. Let us hold fast to His peace for the sake of bringing unity to the communities around us.

Questions for Reflection:

Is there a community in your life right now that is unified? How can that unity flourish even more in Christ?

Who can you share peace with today in order to find unity with them?

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