On Saturday we visited the Redhill Christian Centre in the Midlands of the UK, just north of Stratford and just South of Birmingham. It’s an amazing place led by Stephen and Bryony Brooker (http://www.redhillchristiancentre.co.uk) . I was doing a day’s teaching on Why We ALL Need Healing – the first of a six-part series of one-day events that various Ellel teachers are doing there this year.
At one stage I was trying to illustrate the fact that many people come as they are to Jesus, and put their faith in Him for eternal salvation, but sadly, they stay just as they are and never move on in their Christian pilgrimage or experience His healing restoration in their lives.
As I was teaching, the Lord reminded me of Philippians 2:12 in which Paul tells us “to work out our salvation in fear and trembling.” I suddenly began to smile at the picture God was giving me!
Near our base in Florida is a gym. It has solid glass walls to the outside world, through which you can see men and women in all sorts of different conditions doing their work-outs – trying to lose weight, get fit and be in peak condition for living. It looks really hard work as the beads of sweat break out on their brows!
I thought how stupid it would be if someone paid their subscription and joined the Gym and then thought that holding their membership card in their hand was all that was necessary to get fit and just having the card would enable them to lose weight automatically! They would be the laughing stock of all who knew them. Everyone knows that in order to get fit you have to do your work-outs – and do them often. Joining the club does absolutely nothing for you if you don’t put in the effort in the Gym.
As I thought about the parable God was giving me, I had a fresh understanding of what Paul was saying to the Philippians! When we become a Christian it’s as though we join a very special club, but the cost of membership has already been paid for us by Jesus. There’s nothing we can do to earn our salvation – it’s a free gift. But if we really want to get fit for living this Christian life, then we have to play our part in getting fit – we have to do our work-outs – or, in Paul’s language – we need to work out our salvation day by day!
In that way we will be able to lose weight (Hebrews 12:1) and prepare ourselves for running the race of life that God has set before us. A couple of weeks ago we had a special event at Ellel Grange for people who are doing Ellel 365. One lady described how, after doing 16 weeks of the course, she felt so much better – not just spiritually, but physically as well! Every day of Ellel 365 she had been doing her ‘work-outs’ with God and her life was changing little by little as she got spiritually fitter. It was an amazing testimony.
I came away from Redhill with a new insight into gaining spiritual fitness. We need to stop waving our membership card in the air and get into God’s Gym!
Thanks Stephen and Bryony for hosting us all – and especially for the ‘bacon butties’ and coffee we enjoyed for breakfast, as soon as we got out of the car. They were really good! I now need to do some real physical work-outs as well!