January is the time of year I hate going to the gym the most. Not because I’m fat and lazy from all my wife’s Christmas cookies, but because there are all these people with new years resolutions taking up space on the equipment I’ve been using consistently year round. Last week I got to the gym and I’m running on the treadmill. I’m in the process of training for a half marathon and just cruising along. Then on the treadmill next to me steps a man that I swear weighed 400 pounds. He’s sweating already just from the walk in, but he gets on and sets his pace at 3.5 mph. As I turned back to watching my treadmill I thought “good for him”. I see this a lot in health clubs. There’s a mutual respect for people. People who bench-press 75 pounds work out next to people who bench 250 pounds. No matter who is on a machine, you allow them to finish. Everyone understands that we’re all there for the same reason. Some people just have different methods and abilities, but we all have the same goal: To be physically fit and healthy.
But why can’t church be this way? Why can’t we realize that people who come to church all come for the same reasons? People come to church to connect with God and give Him praise. When someone starts out at a gym you don’t immediately say “the best workout you’ll get is if you run 6.5 mph for 35 minutes on a 2% incline”. Some people’s bodies are naturally made to run, while others are made for weight lifting. Some have naturally great abs, others have pecs and biceps. No matter what your strength or physical giftedness, everyone at the gym respects those other people for the sole fact that they are at the gym putting in work. As Christians why should we treat people at church any different? We bicker about what kind of sermon is best, what music God wants, how to dress, how to pray, how to talk. I got an idea JUST LET PEOPLE COME TO CHURCH! Starting this New Year, let’s make a resolution to affirm people who are making the effort to come to church and express their commitment to God, just as we are affirming all those people putting in the effort at the gym. In the end, both are about saving lives.
Have you ever heard of a healthclub that says “We have an image to maintain here. Could you lose a few pounds and trim up before working out here?”