Finding God in the Gym: From Crossfit to Church

crossfit-to-church

By Devaun Walker

10 Hanging Power Cleans
1 Box Jump
9 Hanging Power Cleans
2 Box Jumps

If you know anything about me, you’d know that physical activity is not my favorite thing; I’d much rather nap. Yet, something in (on) me tells me I need to be fit, so I give Crossfit three hours of my time. Week after week, I find myself doing burpees across the floor, working for “as many reps as possible,” and completing the WOD (workout of the day). It honestly sucks but I keep going back because my pants fit better.

Although it’s not my favorite activity while I am jumping up on a box, there’s something about that place that makes me feel alive. It makes me feel like I have accomplished something. It makes me feel like I am part of something bigger than myself. It makes me feel like I am part of a community of people – people who also strive (at varying levels of intensity) to be healthy.

Last week, however, really got me. I found an example of church at Crossfit and that’s kind of a big deal because I’m certainly not thinking about anything church related while I’m working out and sweating to death.

To those of you who are thinking that Crossfit is some crazy scheme for “butch” people to push themselves to the absolute limits of their body, you’re exactly right. That totally happens. They’re my new friends! I kind of love it. There is loud music, there is a little profanity (I’ll take that blame mid pull-up), and there is sometimes blood from the rope you’ve been climbing; but what people may not tell you, because they’ve never been, is that there is an irresistible element of encouragement―of motivation―like very few other places you go that you involuntarily sign up for when you step into the “Box.”

I’ll give you an example.

Last week we were finishing a workout and after most of us had completed it, one person remained; struggling a little – somewhere we’ve all been. Before I had a chance to finish a swig of my water, a circle had formed around this person as people were cheering her on, urging her to keep going, positioning their bodies beside hers to meet her mid-rep. On her level. People were there for her when she was unsure if she would finish the last round. People were pushing her to fight. To win. To meet her goal. People pushed her all the way to the finish line. It was an amazing experience and my face lit up the entire time.

I look back on this and I think of the local church. I think about how in seminary I’ll learn new tools to do this very thing for God’s kingdom. I think about how important it is for my current and future churches to show people love just like this. For in this moment, though not in a church building, I saw the same love that God shows us without us having to ask. I saw people coming together to support someone when they needed it, even for something as trivial as a workout.

What if we took the time to build a circle around the world? To meet people where they are instead of judging them for their inadequacies we think they may have. How quickly would we be able to change this world for the better and make the love and light of Christ shown to everyone regardless of how they identify to any label? How amazing would the church be? Think of how proud would God be.

If we want to be the body of Christ, we must encourage the people around us. We must get down and do the reps with our fellow people and help them cross the finish line. We must be a community set out to bolster the foundation for the redemption of the world.

Our time is now, the clock has started, and we’ve got a lot of reps to do.

Devaun WalkerDevaun Walker is a graduate of Clemson University and M.Div. candidate in the Divinity School at Duke University. He hopes to become a pastor who preaches the good news of grace, love, and freedom to all people. “White Coat to White Collar” titles his blog as he shifts from a scientific career to that in the local church. Devaun is on Twitter (@devaunwalker) and at www.devaunwalker.com

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