Training in Our Spiritual Lives - Geneva College, a Christian College in Pennsylvania (PA)
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July 21, 2018

Training in Our Spiritual Lives

I will admit it - it is hard to prioritize my faith. Especially in college, it is difficult to set aside time to focus solely on my spiritual life and not get bogged down with other, less important things. I try to be at the top in other areas of life—but I don’t always approach my spiritual life with the same zeal.

In 1 Corinthians 9:25, Paul writes, “Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever.” Personally, I see this in my life when it comes to athletics, and with running, in particular.

I love cross country, and I love track & field; I am passionate there. That is one area of life where I adhere to “strict training.” It’s not even something I worry about. I don’t wake up and wonder if I will run or not. I don’t say, “Oh, I don’t feel like running” or “I just didn’t have time to train today.” I will always have time for it. It’s not even a question.

I don’t say this to boast. I say this to demonstrate the dichotomy in my life that exists between the “strict training” for a temporal crown, and the “strict training” for the lasting crown. Ironically, I train significantly harder for the temporal one than for the lasting one. I prioritize athletics—a meaningless thing in comparison to Christ—the purpose of living.

If I believe there really is a lasting-crown that exists for me, why would I not train the hardest for it? It’s strange to think about, especially because this phenomenon isn’t seen anywhere else in life. If I had a chance to win $100 dollars and a chance to win $1,000,000, I would certainly train harder to win the million. Why, then, do I train harder for a lesser prize?

I don’t think this is a struggle that is unique to me—many Christians struggle with prioritizing their faith above other cares in their lives. Perhaps it is because we can’t see the lasting crown right now, but we can see our goals in this life. We diligently save to buy a new car. We focus on academics and study so we can get ahead and find a good job. We train in athletics to win the championship. We spend time with our families and friends because we love them and want to see our relationships with them thrive, and we want what is best for them.

That’s not to say these lesser prizes are bad or meaningless. We should save our money; we should focus on academics; we should train hard if we are athletes; and we absolutely should show love toward our family and friends. We should do these things, but we must remember to adhere to strict training in our spiritual lives, as well. We can’t see our eternal prize in the same way we see these other prizes; the eternal needs to win each and every day lest the lesser prizes become idolatry.

For me, it comes back to self-control and self-restraint. I need to be able to control and restrain the part of me that wants to put the strict training of running ahead of God. I need to be able to control my passion for running so that I can prioritize and be just as passionate about the strict training of my faith. It starts with an honest recognition of what’s meaningful, and then I need to practice it every day.

The passion I have for running, the passion that renders meaningless the question, Will I train today?—that passion is what I hope to have in my race for the everlasting crown of Christ.

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- Andrew Domencic ‘19