1998 was in another millennium. But, it seems like yesterday is some respects. That's when our family doctor told me I was obese and diagnosed my Type 2 Diabetes. After the exam he explained that my condition was the result of physical inactivity. He called me a couch potato. If my memory banks are functional today I think it was the first time I had ever heard that term. Weighing in at 260 lbs., breathing hard after a short flight of stairs, and just months from my fiftieth birthday, it was a moment on Mt. Sinai for me. It was the reality therapy this middle aged guy needed to hear. A year later I was down to 185 and could jog five miles paced with 10 minute miles. Couch potato days were over.
It's an old concept now, the couch potato thing. Over the years, however, the idea seeped into my spiritual leadership as a church pastor. Today, with the spiritual indicators of the nation hitting all time lows it seems obvious to me, and most observers and analysts, that a good number of our churches are the spiritual homes of millions of pew potatoes. We go to church, experience relatively sedate worship, sit through countless Bible messages, maybe even attend a small group of some kind, and rarely do anything apart from those Sunday only faith exercises. In a big way we're a nation of pew potatoes.
Sluggishness isn't the biblical outcome for heart healthy Christians. Scripture portrays spiritual vibrancy among the elect of God. Yes, there are moments of stillness, quiet, reverence, and silence in the Christian life. Waiting on God, listening to God, humbly worshiping God are Christian virtues. Still, the Christian life is about obedience as we grow and mature in the faith. Paul wrote these important word to Timothy---
But reject profane and old wives’ fables, and exercise yourself toward godliness. For
bodily exercise profits a little, but godliness is profitable for all things, having promise of
the life that now is and of that which is to come. This is a faithful saying and worthy of
1 Timothy 4:7-9, NKJV
What then are the spiritual exercises that produce the heart healthy Christian life? Let me mention a few---
1. Personal worship and Bible study.
Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no
need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth.
2 Timothy 2:15, ESV
2. A consistent and vibrant prayer life.
Praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end,
keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints.
Pray without ceasing.
1 Thessalonians 5:17, ESV
3. A life of specific Christian service.
For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own
doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For
we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God
prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.
Ephesians 2:8-10, ESV
Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord.
Romans 12:11, ESV
And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we
do not give up.
Galatians 6:9, ESV
There's a warning about any of the spiritual disciplines, including the three mentioned. We humans have a tendency to equate busy-ness and activity with spiritual discipline. It's symptomatic of Christians today as in every generation. The meaningful exercise of heart healthy Christians isn't just longer to-do lists. more meetings, or additional time in peripheral church business. Heart healthy Christians exercise in ways that build the Christian body and provide spiritual edification for ourselves and others.
Even more, being a pew potato isn't the way Jesus prepared his followers to influence a busy and confused world.
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