The 2nd Day of Christmas - building the muscle mass of faith

In the middle of my morning workout, my trainer of four years commented on the number of people that show up at the gym following days of feasting. "Despite their good intentions, people think that a couple of weeks of working out will somehow work like magic and they'll suddenly be in shape. In a month, all these new people will be gone and back to their old ways of eating and not exercising. The statistics show that 2 out of 100 people will stay faithful to workouts and make physical activity a part of their lives to see results in body and health. You have to become a disciple and stay faithful. Otherwise, people are wasting their time."

My trainer wasn't judging anyone but simply stating a truism that I've seen in the gym as well. The people I know by name show up every day or at least several times a week to work out. We're a community of gym rats who get one another. We talk every now and then about our personal lives, our particular workouts, discuss tips about food and workout routines. However brief or lengthy our encounters, we're all in the gym to work hard to build muscle mass, keep moving and sustain a healthy body.  

When vast multitudes show up around this time of year or when swim suit season begins, around April, regular gym folks do try to encourage people to stay when intermittent people become tired and feel as though they're not getting anywhere quickly. Many admit that they don't like physical discomfort and many of them just don't want to change their lifestyle habits. "It's too hard." "It takes too much time." "I don't like the pain; workouts hurt too much." A million excuses = 2 out of 100. 

Today, during my workout and as the sweat poured off my face, another 'new' gym client came to ask my trainer a question. I told my trainer to go ahead and talk to this person; I was working on a three-circuit of legs, chest and back and knew what to do. While I worked, I thought about the statistics my trainer quoted. "2 out of 100 people stay faithful." And then the metaphor really hit me in the middle of a bench press. 

How many of us will actually work hard as part of a daily routine to build the muscle mass of faith so we too can be "filled with grace and power and work great wonders and signs among people?" Are we gritty enough to be a faithful witness to the Gospel in concrete ways, without personal agenda so that God is always free to speak and work through us? Or will become one of the majority that falls by the wayside when our good intentions become just that after a few weeks of trying - just good intentions without action?

On this second day of Christmas and the Feast of St. Stephen, early Christian deacon and martyr, I wonder if only 2 out of 100 Christians will succeed in acquiring a new discipline and some of Stephen's zeal and courage for building new muscle mass of faith and contemplation action? Despite good intentions, how many Christians think that somehow a healthy faith just happens, kind of a wishing-makes-it so philosophy? Do we try to encourage people to stay with a faith community when intermittent 'visitors' become tired and feel as though they're not getting anywhere quickly? Building a faith life takes a lifetime of daily work and yes, it takes a village. Some people will admit to lethargy, dislike and fear for the 'discomfort' that faith often brings when building muscle mass. And too many just plain do not want to change their lifestyle habits; they're uneasy and afraid, the bottom line. 

After the merry-making and feasting ends throughout these 12 days of Christmas, will 2 out of 100 people be the only ones to stick to a routine of building the muscle mass of faith as a daily workout, not only for themselves but for the life of the world? Building the muscle mass of faith depends on the daily routine of a disciple sustained by supportive and encouraging community with really great trainers --- and just plain showing up faithfully to do the work. 

Everyone: ready, set, go......





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