As I’m sure many people did at the beginning of the year, my wife and I sat down to list and discuss our short and long-term goals. One of the goals I listed for myself was the often cited, “get back into shape this year” goal. I didn’t have a groundbreaking approach to this endeavor. In fact, I know exactly what caused my “getting out” of shape in the first place. For the second half of 2017 I didn’t eat healthy… at all. As if that wasn’t enough to do the trick, I hadn’t exercised nearly as much as I should have. (Insert respectable excuse here). The birth of our first child threw me completely off my normal schedule, creating an environment where it was nearly impossible to eat healthy and left me with virtually no time to exercise, and things went downhill fast from there. Anyhow, I had decided that enough was enough, and that in 2018 I would whip myself back into shape by eating healthy and working out.
The latter included me going back to my local gym. At some point after my first week of going back, I noticed a sign displayed on an easel that read, “Total Body Makeover in ONLY 12 Weeks!!! The ad was accompanied by several before and after photos of a man who was noticeably more fit after apparently going through this program. My first thought was, “hmm, sounds enticing.” Then I noticed that just one word was italicized and in all caps, the word only. Why would that be the word that was emphasized in this advertisement? Then I thought about it, and it was the very same reason why I was enticed. While reading the ad I had already thought to myself that by April I could be back in shape and go back to eating all the things that I enjoy. This ad wasn’t marketed to the people who have established healthy lifestyles, including frequenting the gym regularly and putting healthy foods in their bodies. No, this ad was marketed to people like me, who made an excuse for the past six months and wanted someone to help them magically get fit in the next three. Had I gone with that program I very well could have had a total body makeover in 3 months, but the real question is would I have transformed the way that I live to ensure a healthy body for the rest of my life?
We sometimes face similar scenarios in our relationship with Christ. Many times, our initial “coming to Jesus moment” is in a time of trouble, when we need immediate help in a situation, only to go back to living our lives the way we want once the issue is resolved. After our initial moment, the hope is that we decide that this isn’t just a short-term makeover, but rather a lifestyle change of following Christ wholeheartedly. Having a lifestyle of following Christ means that we seek him daily through his word and prayer and engage with other people who are like-minded, while also eliminating the things that lead us away from him. In his letter to the Romans, Paul speaks to them, urging them to be transformed by a renewal of their mind in order to test and approve to God’s good, pleasing, and perfect will (Romans 12:2). Paul wrote this of course after he, himself, went through a dramatic transformation of persecuting followers of Christ to preaching that Christ is the Messiah (Acts 9). After Paul made a lifestyle change, he didn’t go back to living the way he had before. When he was later confronted with troubling circumstances including being thrown in prison, his faith in Christ never wavered, and it gave him the stability to weather the many storms that he would face in his life.
Perhaps my physical decline in the second half of 2017 wasn’t caused by the joyous blessing of the birth of our first child, but rather the lack of a stabilized healthy lifestyle. Anyway, I was just thinking…
Gabriel Jones is a Washington, D.C. native. He holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Sociology from Randolph-Macon College and a Master of Business Administration from University of Maryland University College. He attends Grace Covenant Church DC with his wife René and his son Micah.