Many of us live in a land of many choices.
If you want to exercise, you probably have quite a few options. One popular option is Planet Fitness. This gym is inexpensive, open all the time, and constantly advertises a ‘judgement free zone.’ Those are all good things or can be.
Planet Fitness seems to be driven by the idea that you won’t be intimidated there. They won’t allow it and will remove anybody deemed intimidating – a lunk.
While there are certainly people in Planet Fitness that are in great shape and word hard, if you went there and just filled up your time doing the bear minimum, you’d likely never know that you were falling short of what you really should be doing.
Some churches seem to be a bit like planet fitness. They are just happy if someone shows up. That person is included in the attendance and membership numbers. They have a few dollars coming in. People aren’t ever told or challenged to thing that what they are doing is falling short of what they currently are.
And while a church like that might have some really serious and dedicated disciples of Jesus in their midst, the church doesn’t expect people to become all in, sold out, go anywhere and do anything God calls us to do kind of Christians.
I’ve been in some serious gyms. Filled with powerlifters, bodybuilders and strongman. Crossfit gyms are like this too. And I can tell you that in my personal experience, Plant Fitness is mostly dead wrong about the attitude of these serious trainers. They are glad to be together with older people, newer people just getting started.
People should never be judged for getting started. They should be wholeheartedly encouraged for getting started. It’s perhaps the biggest step.
But they should know that the journey is the beginning of being the best you can be. That may be different for different people when it comes to fitness. But a serious gym will take people where they are at and encourage them, motive them and challenge them to grow.
Likewise, a church that takes discipleship – following the teaching of Jesus – seriously, will wholeheartedly welcome people without judgement. They will love them, help them, show them the deep love of God shown in the good news of Jesus Christ. But we’ll also then challenge people, that out of that new relationship, we are on a serious path. A wonderful journey, but sometimes a difficult one. And that shouldn’t be s surprise.
There are all kinds of gyms and all kinds of churches.
I know which kind of both I want to be a part of.