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Going Through the Motions


Hebrews 12  1 Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, 2 fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. 3 Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.

This afternoon is my high school Track and Field team’s first meet of the 2012 spring season. They have trained hard for three weeks.  The training is far from over because the season is a long one.  This afternoon and evening are simply the first test of their training, lifting, endurance, speed, jumping and throwing.  It’s the same for the teams they will compete against. . . in the weeks ahead there will be much improvement, of that I am quite sure and we haven’t even stepped foot on the track yet today.

Every day in practice we urge the athletes to train hard.  What they “do” in practice reflects what they will be able to “do” in the contests.  If they fail to give the workouts 100% then their times will not improve in any significant way, if at all. If they are practicing technique that is sloppy, refusing to break bad habits and correct mistakes in form- well then they will keep doing things that will prevent them from jumping farther or higher, or throwing a greater distance, or making new personal records in their races.  If they refuse to listen to their coaches (and think that their limited experience in the sport makes them experts who don’t need to hear what the coach sees) then they will not improve.  Their lack of openness to instruction will hinder their ability to perform any better than they perform tonight.  In essence– they will simply be going through the motions.  And going through the motions only brings eventual frustration, stagnancy, and certainly no true experience of joy.

The best athletes are the ones who hear what the coach says, trust him or her knowing that their coach has their best interests at heart, and then be willing to execute the change.  I have seen it over and over again with my high jumpers.  Since I’ve been jumping and coaching for almost half of my life I now have the uncanny ability to see things, even the tiniest things that are hindering the jumper from achieving higher heights.  I have taught over 30 athletes to high jump and many of them  have been champions.  Right now I have four jumpers who listen to every word I say and are jumping higher all the time.  It is an absolute joy for me and I know they are pretty  happy about it too!

As fellow disciples on the journey can we tell when others are simply going through the motions of faith?  Can we identify a brother or sister in need of some coaching?  “Get back on the track!  The race is far from over!” If we go through the motions in our discipleship to Jesus Christ what will be the outcome?  A stagnant prayer life?  Less tolerance for the other?  Annoyance at all things annoying that might have drawn a chuckle if we weren’t so worn out?  Complacency in serving?  Love that is even less than luke-warm? An indifference to sin?

As the church, how do we set folks up to be ones who are only going through the motions?  How do we run alongside one another so as to prevent that fateful plateau?

Training WITH another is always an encouragement to both athletes. What if we engaged in spiritual partnership holding one another accountable for prayer, worship, service, reflection?  When a sister or brother is struggling visibly, what if we pushed a little bit to find out what is lacking, what is causing such grief, what is keeping the person from the race?  As the church do we make it easy for people to waltz in and go through the motions or do we encourage a deeper, more disciplined faith training? Do we coach one another though the difficult times or even notice when a fellow runner has left the race (they may even be present physically but that’s about all there is to it).

This coach happens to think that as we run this race of faith together we need to keep a close eye on each other. . . paying close attention to our fellow athletes/believers, encouraging them when they slow down due to injury or pain, offering them technical advice when issues arise in their own race, and most of all cheering each other on because the race is far from a sprint. . . lightyears away from being a power-event. . . not even close to a middle distance race. . . this journey faith is a marathon that lasts our entire life and so we must learn to run the race with perseverance, holding fast to Christ, and making sure that we are not going through the motions.  And we need to do that for one another as well because it matters, and we are all in this together!

One Comment leave one →
  1. PTC permalink
    27March2012 07:51

    amen! Going through the motions is always a “surface” activity. Christ calls us into the deep.

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