4 comments on “Spiritual Athleticism

  1. In response to #2–I can hardly answer yes or no, but will merely mention that this is something that has been fully on my mind this summer.  I have always had it in mind that though God’s blessing and punishment is never directly related to our effort, there is some amount to which our effort (in careful balance with humilty and reliance on grace) is “rewarded”–and how could it not be, as this “effort” is usually a striving towards greater knowledge of God? Shouldn’t this be a reward in itself?
    And on the flipside, doesn’t a lack of effort naturally forfeit some amount of peace/joy/fulfillment because of sheer distance from the source of these?

  2. It all depends on your definitions of “blessings” and “punishments.” One of the greatest lessons I have learned this summer, among thousands, is that the ultimate punishment a human can experience is for God to remove himself from their spirit, to turn his back on us, to say “I don’t know you,” and for us to be bankrupt, devoid of the holy spirit. And if we are rewarded, what greater reward is there than more of himself. But so often, we believe that blessings are things like a significant other, financial security, direction in life, or whatever our hearts most strongly desire. When we get these things, we often tend to think the Lord is blessing us. Is he? Or is he blessing us in the moments that he witholds these boyfriends, jobs, bank accounts, these so called blessings, because he knows our hearts desire what is not best for us. Is he giving us blessings in disguise by means of our lack of blessings? I think so. Which is exactly why Paul so often tells us to boast in our sufferings. When we suffer and do not get what we think we desire, we develop perserverance, which in turn helps us to desire what is truely best. God and God alone. If there is any effort on our side of the equation, it would be rewarded with more of God (which accounts for some amount of peace/joy/fulfillment). Outside of him, there is no blessing and there is no good stuff and there is no reward. What we think is best for us will all be to our eventual demise until we learn to set our hearts on Christ and him alone.

  3. I definitely agree that God works in these ways to give us “blessings in disguise,” but maybe we don’t have to go so far as to say that the good things (relationships, successes, peace of mind) that we receive/experience are not blessings–surely they are, but they can distract from The Blessing, whereas in the absence of this minor blessings we are free to rejoice solely God Himself.  I agree that God works in special measure during times of lack because our sinfulness can keep us far from Him when we’re feeling provided for, but I think it’s maybe not so much that God prefers for us to be in a drought-place over a place of abundance, but that these measurements are irrelevant to God except inasmuch as they affect our proximity to Him.  But it does happen that our proximity is closely related to the cycle of peaks and droughts in our lives.
    Does that make sense?  I guess what I’m saying is, whereas we focus on “good days” and “bad days,” God’s solely priority in our relationship to Him is “near” and “far.”  If only we could get to a place of being near to God independent of ups and downs!

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