A few weeks back, I tweeted (and posted to Facebook) the following about Crossfit:
I've never done Crossfit, but I pulled out a fully submerged iron pool chair w/o falling in, so I think I get the idea.
— Taylor Ezell (@TaylorEzell) March 14, 2014
Naturally, it was well-received with plenty of favorites and comments to go around. The majority of the responses on Twitter and Facebook had the same sentiment, which went something like this. “You might think you understand Crossfit, but you don’t talk about it 24/7, so you obviously don’t get it.” The responses were funny and expected, given the current stereotype that Crossfitters are obsessed with their new-found passion. While it is funny to jab at the ridiculousness of such dedication, it got me thinking about my own life. What am I so passionate about that I can’t stop talking about? That I dedicate my life to? My family? My job? My faith? The obvious answer should be my faith, but that isn’t always the case. Should we treat our faith more like Crossfit?
Shout It From The Mountaintop
If you talk to anyone who is currently doing Crossfit, it probably won’t take more than a few minutes before it comes up in conversation. They will talk about it in the same glowing manner that someone might talk about their spouse or child. You can try to steer the conversation elsewhere, but it will ultimately end back at Crossfit one way or another. Little things will trigger talking points that lead right back into Crossfit because the athlete subconsciously is always thinking about it. How cool would it be if we couldn’t avoid talking about Jesus in this way? What if, even without trying, we couldn’t help but ooze about the goodness of Jesus Christ. The goal should not be to nauseate everyone into annoyance with us and Jesus, so we shouldn’t go about it the wrong way. If someone wants to talk about the upcoming football season, you don’t have to quickly change the subject to “whether God cares about football or not.” Speaking about God and Jesus should flow out of love, not guilt. Imagine the difference in responses between the following two people. The first talks about how much Crossfit has helped turn their life around and is positive motivator for them. The second person tells you that you’re fat and need Crossfit or you might die. Which one is more appealing? Love. Love will always be the most appealing motivator. So let your love of Jesus and His for you flow out and it will naturally come up in conversation.
Crossfitters would scoff at the notion that their dedication is “religious” because, quite frankly, their commitment generally makes religious people look lazy. People who are hardcore about CF will generally do it every day (barring rest days) for at least an hour. The time spent on the actual workout doesn’t even begin to scrape the surface of the total commitment. It impacts other decisions like food consumption, relationships, and social engagements. Dedicated Crossfitters often view decisions as “How will this affect my workout?” They often plan their entire day around when their workout will be taking place. They don’t want to take time off because some of their progress will be lost. What if we had that level of intensity for Jesus Christ? What if we viewed everything we did as “How will this affect my or others’ relationships with Jesus Christ?” Or “How can I manage to sneak in an extra hour today in quiet time meditating over God’s word?” How crazy would that be?! What if we dedicated the time that Crossfitters do on a daily/weekly/monthly basis to our walk with the Lord. My life would look radically different than the few hours that I generally give Him each week. The same way that athletes get in better physical shape with more exercise, we can become more spiritually fit by spending time with the Lord. I challenge myself and everyone else to take our faith seriously and dedicate the necessary time to grow spiritually.
This one doesn’t just apply to Crossfit, but to exercise in general. Working out, or even just doing hard things, is far easier when you are doing it with others. Even the most self-motivated people need a boost to reach their full potential. On days when you don’t want to work out, having that annoying text from a friend calling you lazy is exactly what you need to get going. I will be able to do 10 reps by myself, but can probably do at least a few more if someone is encouraging me to push through the pain. The same holds true in our spiritual journeys. We need to be self-motivated, driven internally to serve the only God worth serving. But this will eventually leave us flat on our face. We will struggle with doubts. We will become spiritually drained. We will lose the motivation that once burned so deeply. That is where our community steps in and carries us. This community can take various forms: church, mens/womens group, bible studies, etc, but the message is always the same. You are not in the alone. Not only do you have the holy trinity cheering you on, you have a support group here on earth too. We often underutilize this ability because we don’t want to appear weak and in need of help. In reality, only the weak refuse help from their spiritual brothers and sisters. We need community like we need air and water. It can sustain us at times when nothing us will.
I realize that many people are probably insulted that I am comparing how we treat our Lord and savior to a fitness craze, and I completely understand your sentiment. It shouldn’t be a real comparison, but unfortunately it is. We (and that definitely includes me) treat our faith like it is just another ho-hum activity or hobby, a small piece of who we are. In reality, our relationship to and with God should define us. There should be no question about how important it is to us because it will encompass everything that we are. This life is too short and too precious to get caught up in things that don’t matter. I’m ready to start taking my faith more seriously, which means treating it like Crossfit. Who’s with me?