Sermon "Skill in Your Hand & God in Your Heart"

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

The Pushes and the Pulls

"I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus." Philippians 3:14
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During his prime, Arnold Schwarzenegger was credited with having the most perfect body. Some would even argue that no one else has ever topped his accomplishments in sculpting the human physique through bodybuilding. He wasn't so great because he was so big. Certainly there have been some before and plenty since his professional career who are much bigger. Instead,  his accomplishment and reason for winning 7 Mr Olympia titles was the fact that he was so symmetrical and well-proportioned. And because of that, he became the standard.

So, its no wonder that when I first got interested in exercise and weight training years ago, I turned to Arnold for advice. I came across his book, now seen as the bible of bodybuilding, called the "Arnold Schwarzenegger Encyclopedia of Bodybuilding". Two things I liked about it was: 1) it was easy to read, and 2) it had pictures. Now, I can follow a book like that. In it, he broke all of the muscles down in two groups, push muscles and pull muscles. Think about it...God gave us muscles that either can pull things towards us or push things away. Biceps (front-upper arm) pull, triceps (back-upper arm) push; pectorals (chest) push, latissimus (back) pull, quadriceps (front thigh) push; hamstrings (rear thigh) pull;  you get the picture. So to reach optimal form in bodybuilding, you need to equally train both the pushes and the pulls. 

I think we'd also do well in our spiritual lives if we took a cue from Arnold. If we all really examine ourselves, we'll realize that our pull muscles are much bigger than our push muscles. We do a lot more pulling than we do pushing. If we could sit and review the tape from just one day of our thoughts, words, actions, and feelings, we'd see that we are consumed with ourselves. What we get, what we are given, what people say to us, how people look at us, the titles we're bestowed, the money we accumulate, the fame we achieve, and so on. Always a constant motion of pulling towards ourselves. Don't get me wrong, we need things for ourselves, both materially, emotionally and spiritually. But if pulling is all we do, our lives would be as unbalanced as our bodies would look if we did that in a gym. 

Just examine the example Jesus set for us. He created all and could have had everything, but while He was here on earth, He pushed material things away and lived a humble if not poor life. Often when He healed people and they set out to spread the word about it, He pushed away the accolades and asked that they not share it with anyone because the time was not right. Satan even took Him up to the peak of a mountain to show Him all the kingdoms of the world which he offered to give to Him in exchange for His worship. Yet Jesus pushed...no shoved it away and said "“Away from me, Satan! For it is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.’ ” (Matthew 4:10 NIV) 

If your life seems too hard, then maybe you need to build up your push muscles. Start by pushing away the things the Bible says are not good for you; then the things that get between you and God. Then you'll find yourself getting stronger and stronger. Before you know it, you, like the Apostle Paul, will be able to say "I PRESS towards the mark of the prize of the high calling which in Christ Jesus."

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