This semester I have a personal trainer as part of BoxerBoot Camp, a program that matches exercise science majors with employees at the university where I work. On Monday my trainer contacted me to see if we could postpone my workout until at least Wednesday because she had schoolwork to deal with.
I happily agreed to put off the workout she had planned.
I was glad to have a reprieve, not because I didn’t want to exercise, but because I wasn’t ready to exercise with her.
You see, the week before was Spring Break and, due to various factors, I didn’t exercise much at all that week. Essentially, I hadn’t really been doing the “workout on your own” aspect of the program for a week. Sunday night I thought, “oh no, I’ll be caught, obviously out of shape. It’ll be obvious that I’ve been flaking.” I wanted to see about canceling, but I didn’t have a good excuse.
When I got the text message from her requesting that we postpone I nonchalantly agreed to her request and thought, “now I can exercise like crazy Monday and Tuesday. I can get ready for my training session this week. I can make up for my laziness over Spring Break.”
I know I’ve had this sentiment about spiritual issues in the past.
- I have to teach at church youth group in three days… better read a bunch of bible passages.
- I’m going to be a counselor at church camp next week…better pray a bunch this week.
- Got a meeting with my spiritual director tomorrow…better meditate for two hours tonight before bed.
- Someone is wanting to ask me advice about spiritual things...better get all my spiritual things in order.
- It’s Good Friday, but Sunday’s coming…better stop sinning before Easter.
The problem is that this sort of strategy doesn’t really prepare you for meeting up with your trainer. And it doesn’t really prepare you to meet God either.
(1) It doesn’t work like that:
You have to be consistent. It’s about a lifestyle, not about cramming as much in as possible at the last minute. Getting “in-shape,” becoming a healthy individual, is about regular exercise and good eating habits. This involves pushing yourself in strength and endurance and taking regular days off to rest and recharge. Attempting to pack that in to a short time won’t yield the same results and might even be a detriment to your health.
In the same way, getting “prayed up” before a spiritual event isn’t the same as a life devoted to Christ. It isn’t the same as daily taking up your cross. It doesn’t cultivate or incline your soul toward holiness. It’s a feverish band-aide. It’s not an attempt to “get ready” it’s an attempt to not “get caught”.
It doesn’t prepare you for Easter; it distracts you from it.
(2) It doesn’t work like that:
Though everything in (1) above is true, the glory of the Gospel is that it’s not required. God accepts you whether you’re ready or not. A band-aide isn’t necessary to cover your recent laziness and missteps. In fact, a band-aide could never accomplish all that. No need to hide or cover up from an omniscient God. No need to try to cram a life of holiness into the next 24 hours. Jesus lived that life, and died in our place. Easter Sunday proves it and celebrates it. The Good News is that His righteousness replaces our shortcomings and sins. The Good News is that the Kingdom is available to all, no matter how lazy you’ve been over Spring Break.
Getting “prayed up” doesn’t prepare you for Easter, because Christ already did that.
You don’t need to prepare for Easter.
The Kingdom is open. The way is prepared.
Approach to the King.
|photo from: your cross daily|