Back to the gym

by Pam Tinsley

Radford University

Several months ago, I returned to the gym for the first time since the pandemic started. It wasn’t easy. Not because I was physically incapable of resuming regular exercise, but because working out at the gym was no longer a daily practice. I made excuses not to go. However, as I eased into a new pattern of working out, I began to feel better. As I expanded my regimen, I felt my muscles firming up. I felt much better physically, mentally, and spiritually. And a bonus was my joyful reunion with many of my former “workout buddies.”

The church where I serve describes itself as a spiritual gym. It’s where we work out in ways that shape our character and our values. Just like physical muscles, our spiritual muscles call for specific exercises – such as worship, prayer, and Bible study – to stay in shape and stretch our faith.

Church is not only a place where we find the tools for our spiritual workout. It’s also where we find community to guide, support, and encourage us. Worshipping with fellow parishioners deepens our faith as we practice together what it means to be a follower of Jesus. Praying together transforms us and our church community.

A spiritual gym – like a physical gym – brings people together from different locations, generations, and life situations. We all are blessed with different gifts, which we share with one another, growing stronger together. We may even discover new gifts, which, in turn, are strengthened from learning and practicing – exercising – together.

And although our spiritual workouts transform our lives and community withinthe “gym,” they are primarily meant to prepare us for daily life outside the “gym,” in the world. Our spiritual workouts and mutual support strengthen us so that we can be Jesus’ hands and feet wherever God may lead us.

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