Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Overcoming the Shame of Ignorance

I am out of shape. Not completely, mind you, but compared to where I used to be I'm pretty flabby. I know that many who read this are probably in the same boat. Let me tell you what normally happens when I try to do something about it.

The first thing I do is go and workout at a local gym. Makes perfect sense, right? They have all sorts of machines to get you in shape there. So, I go. I like the weight bench. That's where your true status as a man happens. How many pounds can you thrust off of your chest! That is the perennial manhood question.

So, I start bench pressing. Inevitably, after ten repetitions, my pasty-white skinny arms begin to quiver and convulse. This is just the warm up with barely 60 lbs. on there. To make matters worse, there's always some well-tanned, Greek hero looking dude standing nearby with a muscle shirt on doing curls. He's usually curling what I am bench-pressing. The veins running to his muscles are larger than my biceps.

After three days of this humiliation, I usually slink back to the house, break out the Doritoes, and decide that mental fortitude trumps physical prowess. I also decide that all I really need is cardio-vascular exercise. So, I proceed to run around the block enough times to add up to a couple of miles. I soon abandon this as well. For one thing, it hurts. For another thing, it is always 100 degrees in Louisiana and it's so humid you can squeeze water from the air. I return to my book and mental fortitude arguments.

Basically shame at my skinniness, a low pain tolerance, and a lack of discipline keep me from being the in-shape specimen of manhood that I should be and that my wife desires. Actually, it can be summed up in one word: Pride.

The dude with the huge muscles had to be a skinny guy at some point. He wasn't born with muscles popping out everywhere. Further, it takes discipline to do just about anything worth while. And as often as not, progress is painful.

Unfortunately, this same sort of intimidation happens to people in the spiritual world. The Bible, to most folks, looks daunting. It is a huge book. Also, most people know someone who can flex some serious spiritual muscle. They can quote tons of passages, say words like "imputation", and they know the difference between dispensationalism and covenantalism. They seem to know when Jesus will come back on His white horse and what the horse's name will be.

So filled with shame, they slink off to their homes, determined to study on their own. They read through Genesis, get through half of Exodus, and then decide to leave theology up to the theologians. After all, simply knowing Jesus is better than a bunch of useless theology anyway.

Here's what we both need to do. I need to lose my pride and go be the skinny sissy for awhile and only bench press the bar. Let the world mock, I will get stronger. Further, I might find some sympathetic Titan to encourage me to get better. Who knows? Also, I need to bone up on the discipline and keep steady at it.

The same goes for those who would grow in stature with God. Find a spiritual Titan to help you learn. Get some "easy" theology books to begin with. Go ahead and bench press the bar for awhile. Ask questions from you wise mentor. Plague and pester him to death with questions. He/she will love it. At lastly, keep steady at it. You will be surprised at your growth. One day you'll find yourself being stared at in awe by a spiritual "skinny kid." That day will be your big chance to remember your days of humility, have compassion, and show your true worth.

1 comment:

Joan said...

I love it! Great analogy. Just the boost I needed.