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Don’t just try, train for transformation

September 4, 2018 GMT

The naked man didn’t have a great plan. Eric Stagno entered a Planet Fitness in New Hampshire on a Sunday afternoon around 1:30 p.m., stripped at the front desk, and walked around the gym before deciding to hit the yoga mats. One observer noted that people were running away from him like he had the plague.

The story gets better. When the police arrived and asked him why he thought he could be working out naked in a public gym, Stagno replied that he thought he was in a Judgment Free Zone. In case you don’t know Planet Fitness, this is their slogan to encourage people to come to their gyms to workout. Police Capt. Brett Morgan noted that: “It’s not a clothing-free zone.”

In any fitness program you will find that you need a Judgment Free group to work out with and you need a great plan for your diet and training.

But you’d better have a better plan than Stagno had. And you need a better plan if you want to enter into spiritual training.

Paul gives us such a plan in Colossians 3. He says to “seek the things above, where Christ is…” and “set your minds on things above.” Paul talks a lot about Christ because we have to change our minds to be captivated by Christ. Jesus becomes our “preferred future” of how we want to be.

People who enter a gym tend to have seen someone that is in a shape they want to be like. They think: “Wow! This is what a human body could look like!” People who enter into training with Christ have been captivated by him. They think: “Wow! That’s what a human being can look like!”

But it is only a start to be captivated. The next thing Paul shows us is we have to change our motivation. We have to take an honest look at who we are now and get a picture of who we want to be. You might call it a picture of our “current reality.”

Paul lists a number of things that need to be changed—or as he says, “put to death”—if we are to look like Jesus: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desire, and greed, which is idolatry…anger, wrath, malice, slander, and filthy language from your mouth...lying to each other.

In the world of health, it may be that you discover your blood pressure is sky high. Your cholesterol level is scary. Your weight is causing issues. You have a shortness of breath when climbing the stairs.

Something in your current reality has to be bad enough to urge you to action.

When it comes to spiritual transformation the same is true. When you see any of these things or others that aren’t listed that are detrimental to your spiritual health, it is painful.

But that pain will help you want to change. Then you are ready to change your motions.

Paul says to “put on” some things. The Greek means to “clothe” yourself or “sink into your clothing.” Then he lists the wardrobe: compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience, bearing with one another and forgiving one another if anyone has a grievance against another ... Above all, put on love…”

There are some things you do to allow for spiritual transformation. Trying won’t get you there. But training will. There is some effort involved.

Here’s one example of how it works. Let’s say you want to be kinder and you realize you’re not kind because you are always in a rush. Your rushing around carries with it worry, fear and anger. You have to change your motions.

Instead of rushing, try resting. The Bible calls this “Sabbath,” which means “stop.” You stop for a day and discover the world went on without your rushing. You reflect and see the damage done by your unkindness. You see that nothing was gained by your rushing. And at its base you uncover that the rushing had to do with your own need to feel important, or your pride, or lack of faith.

It’s a three-part plan for spiritual transformation: change your mind, change your motivation and change your motions. But don’t do this alone. Get to the gym called the church. It helps to train with others. Make sure it’s a Judgment Free Zone. But remember: it’s not a no-clothing zone. Come dressed, above all in love.