Re­li­gion is a team sport

The Covington News - - Religion -

I was over at the Cov­ing­ton YMCA the other day, trudg­ing along at a slow jog on the last tread­mill on the left, sweat­ing, watch­ing TV, watch­ing the miles creep by, and then Will came up be­hind me and yelled, “ Pick it up John!”

I like work­ing out at the “ Y.” The staff and reg­u­lars some­how make it eas­ier and more fun to ex­er­cise. Will is re­tired Navy, just one of the many ex- mil­i­tary who work-out there, adding to the ca­ma­raderie.

I “ picked- it- up,” fin­ished up and took a seat at one of the weight ma­chines, where catch­ing my breath, it oc­curred to me how sim­i­lar the “ Y” is to a church. Both church and “Y” are ex­am­ples of group strength, as Solomon wrote, “Though one may be over­pow­ered by an­other, two can with­stand him, and a three­fold cord is not quickly bro­ken” (Ec­cle­si­astes 4:12).

Sure, it is easy to claim to be au­ton­o­mous. I could prob­a­bly work out just as well on my own. I could just get up, do some pushups, lace on my run­ning shoes and take off down the road. I’ve done that be­fore, just not very con­sis­tently. In fact, the only peo­ple I know that have con­sis­tently ex­er­cised have done so with friends or in some kind of group set­ting.

And yes, there are Chris­tians who lead a soli­tary life. They pray alone, read the Bi­ble alone and sing praises to God alone. But how long does their faith last? And at what cost is this au­ton­omy? There are some joys that can only be ex­pe­ri­enced by be­ing part of the com­mu­nity. Singing by your­self is just not the same as adding your voice to a con­gre­ga­tional hymn, lift­ing up a song of joy and praise to the ac­com­pa­ni­ment of a gifted mu­si­cian.

Read­ing the Bi­ble alone is pretty good, but it is so much more in­ter­est­ing to be part of a group study where in­sights are shared, ques­tions are raised, and the truth is dis­cov­ered to­gether. When Je­sus taught his dis­ci­ples to pray, he said to start prayer with th­ese words, “ Our Fa­ther.” No­tice the plu­ral, “Our.”

It is our Lord’s in­tent that his dis­ci­ples be part of a Chris­tian com­mu­nity. It is in the com­mu­nity of faith that you come for­ward and to kneel at the al­tar and re­ceive com­mu­nion, and it is there that wor­shiper knows again that they be­long to God, that God be­longs to them, and that they are part of a spir­i­tual fam­ily. It is there that they will find the en­cour­age­ment to keep go­ing and hear those won­der­ful words, “Pick it up, (your name here.)”

John Donaldson

Colum­nist

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