While the “Muscular Christianity: 90 Day Workout Plan” has a subtitle of “Spiritually Ripped. Physically Fit. Fully Equipped,” there’s an even broader theme under which you can position the “Muscular Christianity” paradigm and that’s “Inspiration. Perspiration. Transformation.” And not just in the way it manifests itself in terms of the way in which you set and realize your goals from a physical fitness standpoint, but also in the way you process your relationship with Christ and how it’s been engineered to apply to every aspect of your life.
Take a look…
When you ask someone “Why do you want to get in shape?” Most people by saying things like “I want to look better, I want to feel better, I want to perform better” – all very appropriate reasons to watch your diet and exercise consistently.
The problem, however, is that when you strip away all of the healthy sounding rhetoric, what you have left is simply a desire to do something for yourself.
If that’s all your subconscious has to refer to when the alarm clock announces that it’s time to get up and make your way to the gym, it will make a very compelling case for staying in bed. After all, it’s far easier to “do something for yourself” by sleeping in than it is to deny yourself some much needed rest and be uncomfortable for an hour or so.
To ensure that you realize your fitness goals and not just pursue them, you want to make sure that your inspiration for getting in shape includes something greater than you. Otherwise, your resolve remains subconsciously fixed on gratifying yourself rather than improving yourself.
Most work out by themselves, for themselves and answer to no one other than themselves. As a result, their workouts tend to be more about “getting through it” versus “getting to it.”
Without someone or something to hold you accountable, you’re not always inclined to venture beyond your comfort zone and muscles that need to be truly challenged are only slightly engaged.
If you want to improve your situation, you can’t expect any real results if your efforts do no more than accommodate your situation. So to ensure a productive regimen, you have to incorporate a strong and present element of accountability.
Document your goals and reinforce your sense of discipline by allowing others the right to hold you to a standard while you work out and ask you questions about your dietary practices that will make you squirm if you’re not eating intelligently.
When a recruit enters Marine Corps Recruit Training at Parris Island, South Carolina or San Diego, California, they know exactly what they’re targeting: the title “Marine!”
When an Olympic athlete begins preparing for their event, they know specifically how they need to perform in order to win the gold and they tailor their training accordingly.
When a musician begins working on the intricacies of a particular piece of music, they focus on the techniques needed to seamlessly perform a series of mechanical skills in a way that sounds like a true, musical expression.
Define what it is you want to do beyond simply “getting in shape.” What does that look like and how does that effect the way you train?
Transformation is a byproduct of consistent training over an extended period of time. You must remember, however, that it’s not “practice makes perfect,” as much as it’s “perfect practice makes perfect.”
Define your goal and keep it perpetually in front of you to motivate you and guide your efforts.
Once you’ve defined your goal and clarified why you’re pursuing it, now it’s just a matter of working backwards and executing the necessary steps to get to that point.
As you work, your resolve will falter, your energy will lapse and you will stumble. But with a sure foundation, you’re able to beat back the impulse to compromise.
Sounds good, doesn’t it?
While some might want to chime in at this point and say something like “It’s not that simple,” the fact is, it is that simple.
That’s to suggest it isn’t difficult. But to achieve success, while the recipe doesn’t call for much, what it does call for – a defined goal, a noble inspiration and an authentic plan – those things have to be in place. If they are, the desired results are sure to follow. If not, then you’re among the many who are looking to unload their recent purchase of gym equipment at the next garage sale.
What’s true in fitness is just as true when it comes to spiritual fitness – eliminating the “excess” that would otherwise keep you from hearing and obeying your Heavenly Father.
When you train spiritually, you’re studying the Word of God and spending time talking with your King. You’re listening to His Counsel and being aggressive when it comes to being obedient.
Before you start though, you want to clarify your “Inspiration.” Why are you getting up extra early to read God’s Word? Are you just going through the motions to pacify an otherwise guilty conscience, or is it because you want to ensure you’re hearing and obeying your Heavenly Father in order to experience the benefits of Joshua 1:8?
When you train, are you focused? Are you getting “through it” or are you getting “to it?” Are you really listening and benefitting from what you’re hearing in the context of the time you spend with your Heavenly Father, or are you just going through the motions?
2 Corinthians 3:18 says “And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his likeness with every increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.” Is that true? Is there a stronger Presence of Christ in our lives than there was last week or even this morning?
We’re not necessarily in a position to know, in that we’re not the best judge of our own heart (Jer 17:9-10). But we can look back over the ground we’ve covered and notice how God has taught us and how our perspective has changed (1 Jn 2:12-14).
Ultimately we do all things for the same reason: To be like Him and make Him look good in the process (Col 3:17). We want His Purpose, His Peace and His Power working through us to the point where others are drawn to it and become curious (Matt 5:16).
We do this, not just in terms of spiritual disciplines, but in all things including the gym and the dinner table. The result is a more “muscular” Presence of Christ in every area of our lives and that is “Muscular Christianity!”