They make it look so effortless. Some of them absolutely fly through the air, whether it is on the balance beam, the bars, the vault or the floor. Many people have watched with utter amazement the gymnasts at the Olympics.
We all know, however, that these athletic feats required years and years of practice. There were seasons of frustration and exhilaration for all of them. Why is it, then, that so much of the commentary highlights what appears “effortless”?
To be adequate at anything requires effort. To be good or even great at something requires effort, tenacity, perseverance, even struggle. It is mystifying that there persists a notion that when a person finds “their true purpose” that the rest of their life just “falls into place”.
Becoming Christian is a lifelong endeavor. It can lead a person to deeper purpose. In order for that to happen, we have to show up for practice. It takes effort to grow more deeply into the wisdom of God. The practices of corporate worship, contemplative prayer, hospitality to other people, works of justice are necessary to developing our spiritual athleticism.
Think of some of the most “spiritual” and “service-oriented” people you know. I guarantee that they are practicing daily the works of the faith so they are ready “when the bridegroom comes”. Being ready for Christ, to welcome him in whatever circumstance we find ourselves requires preparation on our part. It becomes easier to do the hard things when we take time to practice the basic things and have the support of team mates and coaches.
A congregation is a community where there are opportunities to learn and practice the basics of a spiritual life. A Christian congregation is a community where opportunities are provided to learn and practice the basics of the Christian life so we can together do the heavy lifting and incredible soaring of being the healing presence of Christ in the world.