Turning 30 seems to have had an effect on my metabolism which has caused me to start going to the gym for the first time in my life. During my induction session I was told by my instructor that I have a condition called ‘anterior pelvic tilt’. This may sound serious but what it really means is that from a side profile my posture is less Adonis and more chimp-like. A kind of reverse evolution brought on by too much typing on a laptop.
Apparently the remedy is simple enough – I’ve been prescribed a regime of regular planking. At first I was slightly concerned that this was an extreme sport where you balance outstretched in precarious places. In actual fact, planking is where you get into position to do a press-up but then forget the ‘press’ and the ‘up’ part and simply hold your position for a while – it takes me about a minute before the involuntary juddering and shuddering drop me to the floor. The point is that to correct my posture I need to strengthen my core muscles.
This whole experience got me thinking about what it might mean to have good faith posture as Christians. Do we stand up tall in the expression of our faith or are we bent over, twisted or distorted? What would it mean for a Christian to strengthen their core?
Getting to the core of the matter, Jesus shared that all right faith is built on two core commandments: to love God and to love others. To build a strong faith, we’ve surely got to get up of the sofa off self-centredness and remember to work our faith muscles in the exercise of both loving God and others. The point here is that we must spend time on both in order to stand up strong and tall with a good faith posture.
If we only ever spend our time lifting the heavy weights of the needs of others then our posture will become bent over forwards – especially if we carry those weights around with us. God calls us to take time to rest in His presence and to let Him take the strain of the weights we’re carrying. At the other extreme, if we only ever spend our time with our arms in the air and our heads back in worship then our faith posture will become bent over backwards. If our gaze is only upwards then we can become oblivious to the needs of the world around us, passively wasting away our potential strength.
God wants to build us up as those with a strong faith and a good posture as we exercise our calling. This means we need to dedicate time both to loving Him and to loving others around us. In practice, our actions will often be a mix of both loving God and loving others – of loving God by loving others and vice versa. That said, we’d do well to keep an eye on our posture. If you’re feeling weighed down today and bent over with the needs of others then how about booking in some time alone with God to worship and stretch out in His presence? If you’re feeling more horizontal and filled up with Christian teaching and worship then why not ask God how you might practically serve someone around you in need and commit yourself to it?
As we work on good faith posture, God also offers to strengthen our core by the Holy Spirit as a gift – thankfully no spiritual planking needed. As the writer to the Ephesians prayed, I too pray that God may strengthen us with power through His Spirit in our inner beings, and that being rooted and established in love, we may grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ – that with a good faith posture and with a Spirit-strengthened core we may both know and share the fullness of Christ’s great love.