Part 3 of
4: "Getting In Shape"
The "Get In Shape Industry,"
as I refer to it is a multi-billion dollar industry. And I
call it the get in shape industry because in my mind this
includes all the different businesses associated with the
weight loss companies, and the exercise and exercise equipment
Today, especially here in America, people are fixated with how
their bodies look. But are we focused on looking good or
getting in shape? There is a difference you know. Looking good
is focused on outward appearance, where as getting in shape is
focused on getting ones whole self more healthy.
Physical appearance and health are important to many people,
so in response, companies have responded to meet this need.
And today, one can even avoid the drudgery of diet and the
sweat of exercise by going to the doctor to be nipped, tucked,
or otherwise enhanced or reshaped.
Well God is concerned with us getting in shape too, but God's
concern is how we are shaping our lives to be more like
In our Epistle reading this morning Paul says in chapter 8
verse 29, "For those God foreknew he also predestined to be
formed to the likeness of his Sonů"
In Eugene Peterson's The Message, which is a paraphrase of the
Bible, He translates the biblical text as, "God knew what he
was doing from the very beginning. He decided from the outset
to shape the lives of those who love him along the same lines
as the life of his Sonů"
In other words God wants us to shape our lives to be more like
Christ. And this is our third purpose of life, and the purpose
we discuss today. We are created to become like Christ.
Let's review our purposes in life so far. Our first purpose is
to bring pleasure to God. Our second purpose is that we were
created to be part of God's family. And today, our third
purpose is, we were created to become like Christ.
From the very beginning, God's intent was to make us like his
Son Jesus. Our destiny is to be more like Christ. And in all
of God's creation, only humanity is made in God's image. What
an honor and privilege this is.
The Bible tells us that all people, not just the faithful
believers, possess part of the image of God. But the image of
God within us is damaged and woefully out of shape because of
sin. So God sent Jesus on a mission to help us get into shape,
to restore us to the full image of God, the image we've lost.
So what does the full image of God look like? Simply stated it
looks like Jesus Christ. Jesus is the model we ought to
attempt to mirror, not physically, but spiritually, and in the
way we live and relate to others. How many people today look
at magazines in awe of how people look, wanting to look more
like them? This is especially true of teenagers today who see
the likes of Britney Spears or other cover models, and wonder
how they can look like them. You also have the lean and mean
action figures that boys want to emulate.
As a result folks dump thousands of dollars into exercise
equipment that become clothes racks, exercise club memberships
whose membership cards become book marks, and still others
turn to plastic surgery for a quick fix, believing that all
will be well in life if I can just look like someone else, or
just look better in the eyes of others.
Now there is some goodness to this idea, because looking good
helps us feel good, which in turn helps our self-esteem. But
we need to be careful to not get so fixated on our looks that
we allow how we look drive our thinking. Looks are only skin
deep. God goes deeper then skin and muscle when he looks at
us. God looks at our hearts.
The truth is God created us in his image and God desires us to
be more like him, so he sent us an example to follow, his Son
Now learning to become like Jesus takes time. We can't simply
go get spiritual surgery, or take a spiritual pill and all of
a sudden be like Jesus. In our Gospel reading we heard the
story of the mustard seed, which is the smallest seed a farmer
used. Jesus used this parable to illustrate that the kingdom,
and all of us, will start out small but over time will grow
and produce wonderful results. And growth takes time, it won't
happen the day you plant the seed.
If you work out with weights, the same idea holds true of
developing our physical bodies. You can't lift weights one day
and expect immediate results. Developing physical muscle takes
time, as does spiritual muscle. We've all learned that over
the years, a key to living a long healthy life is being in
good physical shape. Well God desires us to live a healthy
spiritual life as well, so that we can enjoy eternal life, not
only in the future but right now.
As I was thinking about this message this week I considered
what it takes for people to get into shape, physical or
spiritual. And as I reflected on my own struggles with getting
into shape I came up with four keys for becoming more like
Christ. There are probably more that folks can come up with
but I want to share these four keys with you today. " Attitude
" Environment " Intention-alty " Commitment
Attitude Now lets face it, for many Christians, we have an
idea of what it takes to be more like Christ, but the problem
is we approach it with the wrong attitude. We look at our
faith as a pile of "Do Not's" rather than a guideline of
healthy living. And when non-Christians look at the faith they
see a restrictive faith because of the limits it seems to
place on lifestyle, versus the more liberal secular society
they're familiar with.
When we struggle with a healthy physical life style we look at
all the things we can't eat instead of focusing on the good
things we ought to eat.
God didn't give us the Ten Commandments because he didn't want
us to have fun; he gave us the Ten Commandments to keep us
from hurting others and ourselves. God didn't give us the
beatitudes to make us feel like we need to feel guilty because
we live a pretty good life; he gave us the beatitudes to help
us understand that life is more than accumulation and
If we have any hope of becoming more like Christ we have to
begin with our attitude. We need to develop right thinking and
look at the reasons why God wants us to live a certain way.
These so-called restrictions or "Do Not's" we find in the
Bible are there to keep us from getting hurt, or from hurting
others. Out of love God wants to protect us, his children, his
family. We ought to take a closer look at all the blessings we
receive by becoming more like Christ, joy, peace, hope, and
eternal life, for these are the things of a truly healthy
We learned last week that God is a God of love, so we ought to
approach our faith with an attitude of love, and because God
loves us we ought to want to grow and serve him with the same
love. Focus attention on these rather that those perceived
Attitude is very important and really drives our thinking in
all aspects of our lives.
Environment The second key is environment. The environment we
live in and work in is so important. If you are trying to lose
weight, but you work in the mall in a fast food court, what
are the odds your going to lose weight?
Certainly the same is true of wanting to be more like Christ.
If you live and work with people who have no use for
Christianity, or worse yet bad mouth the faith, what are the
odds your going to grow in faith? Now some might see this as
an opportunity to grow because they're seeing the alternative
first-hand, or they see it as an opportunity to convince
others that Christianity is the way to go.
But lets face it many Christians are very much like the
mustard seed and haven't grown strong enough to be able to
live in an environment that's counter to the Christian life.
We need to pick and chose the environments we hang out in
carefully, because our environment will tempt us and will
influence our thinking. We see this truth played out time and
time again in our society.
If you are a recovering alcoholic the last place you want to
go is the bar. Same is true of those wanting to become more
like Christ. We need to be in environments, which are
conducive to growth, and we ought to avoid frequenting places
that stifle our growth or send us backwards in our walk with
The circle of friends we chose is important to our ability to
grow in Christ. We ought to be wise in selecting the people we
hang out and associate with.
Intention-alty I'm not sure this is even a word, but what I
mean by Intention-alty is that we ought to intentionally seek
to become more like Christ, not just sit back and see what
Many folks today, because of the pace of our society want a
special pill to take to lose weight, a shot to take to become
more muscular, or what have you, and they want to just simply
sit back and watch it happen.
Getting in shape doesn't work that way no matter what some
infomercials might say. Getting in shape, whether physical or
spiritual, requires work, making the right choices, and
engaging in intentional exercise.
For example, being intentional means using the right exercise
to work the right body part. If you are trying to buildup your
biceps, you don't do sit-ups.
The same is true of building up your faith. If we want to
learn more about the healing power of Jesus, we ought to read
the Bible, not watch some TV evangelist hitting people on the
head. We have to be intentional about what we're doing and why
we're doing it.
Also, being intentional means being purposeful about the
choices we make. When losing weight we have choices to make,
do I chose the cookie, or do I chose the carrot. Well to be
like Jesus do we pick Sunday School and Bible Study, or do we
pick TV and the Internet.
Lets face it our lives are full of choices, but are we
intentional about the choices we make, or do we let feelings,
emotions, or the pressure from others dictate the choices we
Commitment And the last key for becoming more like Christ is
to be committed to it. Not just for the short-term but for the
rest of your lives. To me this has to be the most difficult
key, and is the key, I believe, that drives all the others.
For anyone trying to lose weight, commitment, and the ability
to stick to it for the long haul, can be very difficult.
The same is true of becoming more like Christ. Sticking to it,
being committed to it over the long haul is tough. There is no
Jesus pill we can take, no Jesus machine we can purchase, and
no Jesus plastic surgeon we can go to. No becoming like Jesus
is a life-time process of discovery, a journey of high times,
and a journey of low times, yet it's a journey that has
There are times when it's easy to get bored with reading the
Bible, attending Bible Study, or even going to Church. We hear
this all the time from our neighbors, our kids, and our
Unfortunately, to address this concern some have gone the
route of turning worship into a fast-paced entertainment hour,
complete with reclining chairs and espresso machines. But like
the fad diets, and the fancy exercise equipment, this type of
"cheap faith" fades over time.
Now this is not a slam against more contemporary ways of
worship, because true worship has many different styles. As a
matter of fact I enjoy contemporary worship myself. I'm
talking about the events that claim to be worship but are
nothing more than a concert with side acts and feel good
The only real way to develop commitment, especially a
commitment to be more like Christ is to understand how
becoming more like Christ is relevant to our lives. The issue
isn't creating an experience that gets people lathered up in
an emotional frenzy, only to come down later back to the place
they were. The real issue is showing folks how the Christian
faith and Jesus Christ are relevant to their lives.
How is becoming more like Christ relevant to me, what does it
mean for me, how will it change my life for the better, and so
on. These are the questions people want answers to, not where
is the espresso machine or whose the headlineing band at
worship this morning.
Developing commitment is tough, commitment to be more like
Christ is not always easy, and we shouldn't sugar coat this
truth. And the rewards of such a walk are truly wonderful, and
we shouldn't hide these from folks either.
If we have a proper attitude, hang out in the right places
with other Christians, be intentional about our spiritual
exercise, and really commit ourselves to the task, then we are
fulfilling God's third purpose for us, which is to become more
like Christ. We all can get in shape for Christ's sake if we
put God first in our lives.
Next Week, Part 4 of
Discovering Life's Purpose -
Becoming a Point of Light