This past spring, I joined a private training gym primarily for mental health reasons. The main reasons were to sleep better and keep up with my kids, but I also needed the space to do something I enjoy. Now that I have three kids, getting out of the house even for just an hour is better for everyone in my household. So to put it plainly, I joined a gym mostly for reasons that were self-focused.
With my routine now regularly on the calendar, I quickly realized I was spending a lot of time with my trainer. I would see her more each week than I would normally see my friends. Since the training was one-on-one I had ample opportunity to get to know this gal.
And that’s exactly what has happened. I am still at that same gym and I train with the same gal a few times a week. She is not a believer and her life looks very different from mine. After months of getting to know her, the conversations now have some depth and history behind them. They are also getting harder because we’ve covered all of the basic small talk. I’m sure you can tell where I’m going with this.
Even though I initially joined a gym for self-centered reasons, I am glad God opened my eyes to the people in front of me. Every conversation and interaction is an opportunity to share who Jesus is. Does this mean I take advantage of every conversation? No. But with the right perspective I can keep the gospel in the forefront of my mind as I get to know my gym companions and trainers.
The Learn the Gospel course has greatly helped me with this thinking. The entire course challenged me to solidify my foundational knowledge of the gospel. I finished up the last lesson a few months ago, but this week I thought it would be good to go back, review it and answer some of the questions I left blank. In lesson eight it says, “The gospel not only starts the Christian life, but also it drives and shapes it.” Similarly, Peter tells us that “a heart full of the gospel will always be ready to speak about the gospel to others” (1 Pet 3). What great motivation to live faithfully with Christ as Lord so that as opportunities are provided for us, we will speak about our hope.
So if you're considering setting some goals for 2023, here are some ideas:
Pray that the gospel would shape and determine your life. Be prepared to be challenged. Pray for people who you can share the gospel with. Pray that God would deliver them from the domain of darkness and transfer them to the Kingdom of the Son he loves (Col 1).
Also in Colossians 1, we are called to walk in a worthy manner, bear fruit in every good work and increase in the knowledge of God. All of this only by the power of the Spirit. So bear good fruit that others around you will want to consume.
Join a gym.
Yes, join a gym… or something else where you can interact with non-Christians regularly. Joining an already established group is different from inviting a non-Christian to Bible study. Both are great ideas, but there is a difference. If not a gym, then join a runners club, or a hiking group. Join your neighbor on their regular walks. Be a mentor mom and invest in other women in a different stage of life. Get up early to play basketball with your coworkers. Intentionally place yourself in a context that gives you the opportunity to "speak to outsiders daily" as Paul encourages us in Colossians 4.
Pray some more.
To use a gym metaphor, every Christian’s prayer muscles need conditioning. There is much mutual prayer for Christians in the letters written by Paul and Peter and others. Follow that example and pray for your fellow brothers and sisters in Christ to allow the gospel to drive their conversations, despite the fear of facing ridicule or what it may do to their relationships.
Finally, I’ll end with one of the many highlighted texts in my workbook: