Lent Devotions 2012: 29th February

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us.” Hebrews 12:1

Recently, I’ve started going to the gym again. It is time to get in shape, lose weight, and get that body beautiful.

It seems I’m not the only one wanting to tone the body up, as the Fitness Industry Associates (FIA) record that over 8 million people in the UK possess a gym membership at one of the 5,700 gyms located throughout Great Britain. That is a lot of people worried about taking care of their bodies.

And did you realise that in 2009 just under 36,500 aesthetic surgeries took place in the UK, according to the British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons (BAAPS – yes, that is what they call themselves; you can’t make this stuff up). Despite the recession the number of cosmetic surgeries increased by 6.7%, and the number of men undergoing cosmetic surgery rose by 21%. We are concerned with the body beautiful in the UK!

St. Paul refers to the Church as “the Body of Christ”. And some today complain that the Body of Christ has grown a bit spiritually fat and flabby. Paul warns us against such things as he encourages Christians to fight the good fight (1 Timothy 6:11-12) and remain strong through constant spiritual exercise (1 Corinthians 9:24-27; Philippians 2:16; 3:13-14). And we at our peril deny the words of the old children’s hymn, ‘we are weak’. But to our joy we continue singing, ‘but He is strong’. It is His strength that transforms His Body and allows us to be used by Him. In fact, the author of Hebrews encourages us to, “lay aside every weight and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God”. (12:1-2). The Body of Christ IS strong and vibrant not in itself, but only when she focuses on Jesus Christ and His cross. His weakness makes us a strong and beautiful Body.

Lord Jesus Christ, beautify Your Body, the Church, by removing all our sinful pride. Give us the strength to run with endurance the race You have given to us, Amen.