Spiritual Exercise

What is true for our need and experience of exercise is also true of the emotional, rational, spiritual, and physical strain that comes when we grow in our Christ-like life. As we embrace the transformation, we will find the happy ennui that keeps us going…

Christ’s commandments are not burdensome, for whatever is born of God conquers the world.(1 John 5:3-4)

I think many of us might disagree with the first clause of this sentence. As we said last week, just because the commandment of Christ is straightforward, that does not make it easy. To truly live into the life of love God desires for us takes a lot of effort from every part of ourselves.

Yet, here is the good news. Though love can sometimes feel like a burden, it is not intended to be one. Yes, it is a job. However, our energy to love comes from an inexhaustible source that will bear the load with us. That is a key promise of Christ – himself. Through the Holy Spirit we are consistently and constantly being transformed and empowered to become more Christ-like by Christ’s own presence.

So why does it still feel like we are drained?

Think about it this way: when you begin a regular workout routine, you are exhausted for days. However, as you keep going, you find that though you may be momentarily worn out from the exercise, overall you become stronger and have greater stamina. In the end, you often find that the fatigue of your workout becomes almost a sense of glorious relief for having used your muscles. The more we exercise, the better and more comfortable the process becomes.

What is true for our need and experience of exercise is also true of the emotional, rational, spiritual, and physical strain that comes when we grow in our Christ-like life. As we embrace the transformation, we will find the happy ennui that keeps us going.

And here is the other good news from this passage: what is ultimately born of God is love. This letter from the school of John points out the great inevitability of God – love will conquer the world. This is not a domination and force that the world recognizes for instead of maintaining the control and supremacy of those in power, it seeks to build up all, especially those who the world sees as small. That means you and that means me.

What does all this mean for us? At the end of the day, the more you embrace the re-creating presence of God, the stronger you will become at following Christ and all that entails. And on those days you feel like you are still making little or no progress, always remember that this is ultimately about God will do. Remember that God is Love and Love will conquer the world.

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