Sad to see Andy Murray lose this afternoon, but whatever the post-match analysis, he gave it all he had and prepared as well as he could have done. There's been plenty of comment on Murrays physical training, but also about his mental and emotional readiness for a big game like today.
Disciples of Jesus are called to peak performance - we are called to imitate Christ, to be as much like Jesus as we can possibly be. That's an incredibly high benchmark. Top sportsmen don't just rely on talent and ability to hit peak performance when they need to, they prepare physically, mentally and emotionally so that they're as ready as they can be when peak performance is called for.
If we claim to be followers of Jesus, then we have to get into training as well. 'Prepare your minds for action', 'train yourself to be godly', 'fix your minds on....' 'abstain from....', the training regime for discipleship isn't massively different from that of a top sportsman, though the goal is very different.
- Mental training: filling our minds with God's truth, wrestling with what it means and how it applies, being careful what we fill our thoughts with (I met someone the other day who's abandoned watching all soaps because they find them too depressing. They weren't a Christian, but maybe are more discerning than some Christians I know). See last weeks discussion about 50 Shades...
- Physical training: training our bodies not to be slave to our appetities, being physically fit so that we can give our best, be alert, make the most of the life God has given us. Learning not to get too comfortable - I'm startled by how reluctant I am to go under canvas, despite having done lots of it as a teenager, because I'm now too used to my home comforts.
- Emotional training: knowing how we tick, how we're likely to respond, what we get tempted by, being in control of anger, being practiced in loving, forgiving, showing compassion and mercy, being able to control ourselves in situations where that's needed etc.
I've been struck in recent years by Dallas Willards writing on the spiritual disciplines, a couple of quotes:
"Asking 'what would Jesus do?' when suddenly in the face of an important situation simply is not an adequate discipline or preparation to enable one to live as Jesus lived."
"we so devoutly believe in the power of effort-at-the-moment-of-action alone to accomplish what we want, and completely ignore the need for character change in our lives as a whole. The general human failing is to want what is right and important, but at the same time not to commit ourselves to the kind of life that will produce the action we know to be right.... the road to hell is paved with good intentions. We intend what is right, but we avoide the life that would make it reality." (the Spirit of the Disciplines)
I've just re-signed to a local gym, because my physical condition isn't what it should be, and will get a gym card and workout pattern. I wonder what a spiritual gym card would look like?