This might come as a surprise to some of you but I am not in the best of physical shape. I mean, come on, I am a hunk, but I’m more like a hunk of soft cheese.
I live such a sedentary lifestyle that I have to manufacture opportunities to exercise. It does not come naturally to my office-based, stationary American, screen-filled life.
I try to eat well and exercise but, to be honest, it’s something I have to make an effort to do. Most Americans, myself included, live such a still lives that we have to manufacture opportunities to work our muscles. Whereas physical labor was once the norm for many people as part of their daily routines, we are now slow, lazy and fat.
Exercise is no longer something that comes naturally, so if it’s going to happen, it’s going to take intentionality. We have to consider our schedules and our priorities and we have to muster up the self-discipline just to get out and be active. Though the American lifestyle presents a lot of people with luxury, that’s not always a good thing. Comfort breeds complacency and complacency leads to atrophy.
But the need to manufacture opportunities doesn’t just apply to exercise, especially if you’re a Christian. Discipleship/Evangelism is expected to be a normal part of the Christian life. And yet, most American Christians never share their faith. And many American Christians don’t even know any non-Christians. In fact, we’ve inoculated ourselves from those who don’t yet know Jesus. We build mega-mall-churches with coffee shops, restaurants, sports leagues and the like, all pursuing a “safe, family-friendly” environment.
But just like our sedentary lifestyle means that we must manufacture opportunities to exercise, our isolationist Christianity means that we have to manufacture opportunities to spend time with those who don’t yet believe. This means that we must examine our schedules and consider our priorities.
It may even mean that we should do fewer “Christian” things; attend fewer Bible studies, etc. Christian community is a non-negotiable for the Christian life, but it should never mean that the result is that we don’t even know anyone who believes otherwise. We must manufacture opportunities. It’s not difficult, it’s just uncomfortable for many Christians for a variety of reasons, most fundamental is that many Christians just don’t feel comfortable articulating basic truths of our salvation.
This means that churches must adopt new measures of “success” and/or “failure.” We cannot base such assessments on our corporate gathering attendance. We have developed a culture in which the most “holy” people are often viewed as the ones who are at the church building the most or who are at the most events. However, if this comes at the expense of sharing our Savior, we have missed the point.
Living faithfully to Jesus takes effort and initiative just like living a healthy lifestyle. Get out there and manufacture opportunities. Join a club. Join a team. Go to your kids’ events. Opportunities are all around us. But are we pursuing them?