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As for Us It’s Different

One of the most famous speeches in the New Testament is known as Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount. Using this mountain as a natural pulpit, Jesus begins his message with a set of attitudes to emulate. Just before making a transition to prayer and giving, Jesus uses logic to explain why Christians are called to a higher standard. To stand out like a lighted city on a hill, you need to go above and beyond what an average citizen would do. In other words, it’s different for us.

You have heard that it was said, You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy; 44 But I tell you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 [aj]To show that you are the children of your Father Who is in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the wicked and on the good, and makes the rain fall upon the upright and the wrongdoers [alike].

After playing four sports in high school, I decided to take a step back and just do intramurals in college. Little did I know that I would become the Intramural Coordinator for the Fellowship of Christian Athletes. One of my responsibilities was attending weekly coaches and referee meetings. During one of our basketball games, a teammate threw a punch and was kicked out of the game. Following his ejection, I had to explain to Chris the importance of “turning the other cheek.” While this discussion took an expected turn as Chris thought Jesus would have punched this guy too, my main point to him was as for us it’s different.

For if you love those who love you, what reward can you have? Do not even the tax collectors do that? 47 And if you greet only your brethren, what more than others are you doing? Do not even the Gentiles (the heathen) do that? – Matthew 5:43-47

Jesus makes this clear in the passage above. Christians aren’t called to blend into their surroundings like a chameleon, Rather, anyone who enters into a personal relationship with Jesus is expected to gradually become more like Christ. This transformation won’t happen immediately. However, as new believers begin to study the Bible and ask other Christian’s questions, change will occur. Subsequently, as maturity takes place over time, James 1:2-4, Christians will come to realize as for us it’s different.

by Jay Mankus

When Your Let Your Body Go

If once active adolescents become inactive as adults, gaining weight is almost a certainty.  When I was a senior in high school, I was five feet eleven inches tall and one hundred and forty pounds.  A year later, I decided to not run cross country in college, gaining the freshman 25 immediately.  Playing intramurals the next four years kept my weight stable, give or take five pounds.  Over the next decade, I gained another ten pounds, but remained active as a teacher, youth director and assistant golf professional.

Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it. Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. So I do not run aimlessly; I do not box as one beating the air. But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified, 1 Corinthians 9:24-27.

Unfortunately, I gained another 20 pounds the first year I was married.  However, it’s not what you think.  Since I lived in the country, neighbors didn’t keep their dogs on leashes.  Thus, as I attempted to run a few times a week, dogs chased me for a half mile at a time.  After sprinting on and off, I finally gave up as the setting was safe enough to run.  Using my life as a case study, our bodies get use to a specific schedule.  Whether this is running, training or working out, this exercise stabilizes our weight.  Yet, when people like me alter routines without a substitute to take it’s place, it’s easy to lose control of your body.

For while bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come, 1 Timothy 4:8.

Recently, I have come to the conclusion that I am fighting a losing battle as each time I lose weight, it returns within a month.  While I am not giving up, perhaps I need to change my perspective.  Exercise is a healthy habit to practice, but godliness has value in every aspect in life.  Therefore, I need to let go of my frustrations for a body out of shape and switch my concentration toward my soul.  Just as body builders draw the attention of those in fitness centers, Christians should elicit the same response to strangers in public.  Those who develop a daily time of Bible Study, prayer and worship start to become spiritually pumped up.  These habits often fuel a desire to become more like Jesus.  While I would love to physically return to the body I once possessed, it’s better to demonstrate the light of God’s love through random acts of kindness.

by Jay Mankus

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