You've been raised on the Message of the faith and have followed sound teaching. Now pass on this counsel to the followers of Jesus there, and you'll be a good servant of Jesus. Stay clear of silly stories that get dressed up as religion. Exercise daily in God—no spiritual flabbiness, please! Workouts in the gymnasium are useful, but a disciplined life in God is far more so, making you fit both today and forever. You can count on this. Take it to heart. This is why we've thrown ourselves into this venture so totally. We're banking on the living God, Savior of all men and women, especially believers.
-1 Timothy 4:6-10 (The Message)
Each week I meet with a personal trainer. He directs me through exercises that work various muscle groups in the body. He provides encouragement, instruction, and refinement. And his guidance is based on training he received within his particular field, yielding expertise concerning the body and physical health.
Likewise, in order to advance in the Christian faith, we need to enter a training regimen. There is a knowledge base that must be mastered, and a set of practices that must be adopted. One without the other is somehow incomplete; too often we are content with a saccharin substitute, "silly stories dressed up as religion."
This text holds a tension within. There is a tradition to be received about Jesus, a sound teaching upon which we can build our lives. But there is also a necessary accompaniment, the practice of what has been taught, an exercising of what it is that has been received. There is a practicing of the belief, and a belief in the practice, grounded in a person, Jesus Christ. Exercising daily in God makes fit for life now, but also in the kingdom, forever.
There is no greater calling than training for life in the kingdom of God, with a prize greater than Olympic gold. Seek the teaching about Jesus that has been passed down to those that are trustworthy--search the Scriptures and surround yourselves with those who know and live well the with-God life.
Bank your life on it, and live it.
Lord, help me to know and to live the life that you have called me to live in Jesus Christ. Amen.