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Brian Rapske Ph.D.

It’s About the Weights…Not the Mirrors

I have a membership at our local community fitness center near where we live. The community center is a very popular place, being centrally located and right next to one of the larger highschools in our city.

I’ve been going there for a number of years now. My object, beyond general health and fitness, is to keep the "big guy" away. I remember the big guy from the "before" pictures I have of myself. He is the couch potato, seriously overweight and unfit version that used to be me a number of years ago. I don’t want to go back there ever again. It’s a battle and in that battle I have to be committed.

The fitness center is a good facility, with free weights, benches and mats, and a wide assortment of exercise machines of various types and sizes. You can give virtually every muscle in your body from head to toe a great workout.

Like virtually all other such facilities, along one entire wall of our community fitness center there is a large bank of floor-to-ceiling mirrors. The purpose of the mirrors, as I understand them, is to monitor yourself so that you maintain a safe and proper exercise posture and technique.

Its quite a study to watch what actually happens in the fitness center.  Over the years it’s occurred to me that, while most folks come for vigorous and serious exercise, a rather significant minority actually goes to the fitness center as much or more so to admire themselves in the mirrors as they do to lift the weights! In a few cases, the narcisistic grooming and posing are so evident that it’s truly off-putting. But, then, I guess we’re all guilty of it from time to time.

The matter of the weights and the mirrors reminds me of what Paul writes to the Philippians. Paul tells them about the sustained energy and commitment he exerts to gain Christ and be found in him, to know the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of Christ’s sufferings so that he might attain to the resurrection from the dead. But then, so that no one will mistake what he is saying, Paul clearly and forcefully declares that he has not yet arrived (Philippians 3:12-14).

In fact, Paul advises that "all of us who are mature should take such a view of things. And if on some point you think differently, that too God will make clear to you." (Philippians 3:15) We are not there yet. We are not finished works spiritually in this life. We are all of us still in desparate need of a saviour. To say or give the impression that one has crossed the finish line; to cherish self-congratulatory notions that one is a "good catch" for the kingdom, is actually a deflection from the finish line rather than a crossing of it.

Paul says, the Christian life is about pressing on. It’s all about the weights and not the mirrors.

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