He will also keep you firm to the end, so that you will be blameless on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ.
1 Corinthians 1:8
This week Richard and I had a cheeky day out as it was his birthday. The weather forecast looked reasonable, so we decided to go the Sevenoaks and Knole Park for a good walk. It was about time we got our steps in. All was good until we started to walk around Knole Park – it was muddy and slippery which meant that walking was hard going. We also realized how unfit we were when tackling the hills from Sevenoaks station and around the park.
Although we had taken our cameras the park was strangely quiet. Other than a few crows, there were no birds and the deer for which the park is famous, seemed to be in hiding. It was only as we were leaving the park, we saw a small group of does far in the distance. We decided to make our way back through the town, but then the heavens opened. Having believed the weather forecast we did not take umbrellas and by the time we reached the station we were cold and soaked through.
We have decided that we are fair-weather walkers. We want to exercise when it is dry, warm (but not hot), we refuse to walk when it is icy or snowy, too cold, or too windy. Taking all that into consideration, and the vagaries of the British weather into account, we would probably only be able to exercise about twice a year!
I wonder if we are like this with our faith? We want to follow Jesus when it is sunny, when life is easy, when the sermons encourage us with a pat on the back, or we sing the songs we know and like during worship. But faith is like exercise, we have to exercise our faith muscles even when it is hard going being a disciple of Jesus. We sometimes forget that the root of the word disciple is discipline. A dancer’s life is disciplined, ensuring that exercises and stretches are done daily, that a good diet is followed, that a regular pattern of rest is followed. Discipline is not about being told off, but about putting good practices into our every-day lives.
When Paul writes his letter to the Corinthian church, he tells them that they are already sanctified, blameless, blessed with every spiritual gift. But as we read on in the letter, they are far from spiritually fit. There is infighting, favouritism, moral lapses, and disorder. In other words, they are far from disciplined. But Paul’s letter encourages them to be more than fair-weather disciples, to be disciplined and faithful in every aspect of their lives.
Sometimes being a disciple is hard work, particularly when our lived experience fails to match our hopes, dreams or prayers. However, we are called to be faithful no matter what. This means, as with our walking, we need to pray even when we don’t feel like it. We need to gather as the church even when we would rather stay at home, we need to worship God even when we would rather simply present our petitions rather than our praise.
Thankfully Paul doesn’t wait for the Corinthian church to be perfect before he tells them that they blessed, saints, and not lacking in any spiritual gift. Maybe what I need to do is find my walking boots and in the words of a famous sporting brand: ‘just do it’.
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