Thursday, January 5, 2012

Christian Training: for Missional Living

I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 3:14)

Whenever we use the word "training" in the church world, we think about conferences, seminars, classes, webinars and written resources. All of these depend upon an expert giving us information, as if information should be classified as "training." Contrast that with training in the sport's world. Athletic training does not require athletes to sit and listen to experts. In fact it can be done with very little input or direction. When my 7th grade football coach gave us instructions about how to prepare over the summer for 8th grade football, he handed out one piece of paper and told us to go do it.

Now if you walk into a bookstore, you will find hundreds of magical plans for getting in shape, but the biggest part of the training is just doing it. I wonder if we have made Christian training as difficult and complex as it seems like physical training has become.

Ultimately it's just not that complex. We train by worshipping. We train by sharing meals together and receiving communion and living in community. We train by sacrificing for each other. By prayer, by fasting, by waiting on God's presence, by reading the Scriptures. We train through obedience, submission and generosity. We offer hospitality to those who can offer it in return. All of these things depend upon us doing them if we are going to "press toward the goal."

I know that reading books and attending seminars can be helpful, but let's not confuse that with actual training. Training shapes the way we live, our personal experiences with God and out freedom to engage our neighbors with God's love. And as we train we attain the prize of knowing and experiencing the God of beauty who changes everything.

How are you training today?

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