Saturday, November 27, 2021

What Do Weight Lifting and Bible Study Have to Do with Each Other?

I was naughty yesterday and ate more than I should have, so it will come as no surprise to anyone that I was back at the Y today getting in an hour-long workout. 

Like my pose? I'm sucking in to hide my fat tummy.

I love weight training at the Y so much it hurts. One of the things I enjoy about the Y is the accountability if affords. Both the trainer and your buddies are there to encourage you. I would guess I'm probably the oldest guy around. Which reminds me of the old truism that everyone loses muscle as they age. I'm told the loss begins around 30 and continues for the rest of your life. That's certainly been true of me, and I really don't believe that a 69-year old will be able to reverse that trend. That said, you just can't ignore your muscles. Muscle is what allows you to move. So there's a real connection between running and weight training. 

Now to be honest, I don't consider myself much of a lifter. I'm simply after a bit more muscle definition here and there (especially there). Most of my lifting has to do with upper body training since I could use some real improvement in my posture while running. The goal is what is called "core functional fitness," a level of fitness that allows you to pursue your primary activity.

As a Greek teacher, I think are some parallels between what I do in the gym and what I do in the classroom. I am trying to develop my students' "core functional fitness" so that they can do accurate exegesis of the biblical text. Why is this important? It's important because the Bible is "sufficient." It tells us everything we need to know about life. That's why we need to read it for ourselves and study it for ourselves. The main requirement in learning to study the Bible is the commitment to look really hard at what the Bible is saying. This may sound like a simple procedure, but it might be the most difficult part of the process. Interpretation answers the question, "What did this passage mean in its original context?", and the basis for accurate interpretation is always careful observation. If we rush into application without first laying the vital foundation of interpretation, we will be left with either what we think the text is saying or else what other people have said. In my teaching, I want my students to be able to recover the original meaning of the text in its own historical context. To do this, we pay careful attention to what is called "authorial intent." Only when we understand what a passage was intended to mean by its original author can we put it into practice in our own lives. 

As with developing a healthy and fit body, none of this happens overnight. It happens by observation of the text over and over again, until careful observation becomes almost an unconscious habit. This is not to say that we don't use helps such as lexicons and commentaries to check our conclusions. But first and foremost, our goal is let Scripture interpret Scripture. Thankfully, because of the great doctrine of the perspicuity or "clarity" of Scripture, we can know what God is saying to us through his word. The message of the book we are studying will always be the same regardless of your gender or race or what century you happen to live in. The Bible is truth -- absolutes on which we can stake our very lives. If we maintain a prayerful, teachable spirit as we read and study the text, we will find that the Holy Spirit will use his word to reveal to us precious treasures of truth. 

Ultimately the goal of weight lifting is a transformed body. Ultimately the goal of Bible study is a transformed life and a deep and growing relationship with Jesus Christ. Through it we are changed from glory unto glory into the image of Jesus. Never forget that Bible study leads not merely to information but to transformation. Go for it!