Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Get Naked For God

Get Naked For God

My son was a gymnast when he was younger, and I came across a word in the Bible that comes directly from the sport of gymnastics. But more than just being an interesting word, it leads to what I think is the most important thing in life, and the key to enjoying life and feeling fulfilled.

Read the following verse and focus on the words “train” and “training”:

Have nothing to do with godless myths and old wives' tales; rather, train yourself to be godly. For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come. (1 Timothy 4:7-8)

“Train” and “training” are translated from a Greek word: gumnadzo. This is where we get our English word, “gymnast” and “gymnasium”. This Greek word literally means to get naked and practice. It comes from “gumnos”, which means nude.

Why is this important? Think about why an athlete would strip down to practice. A dedicated, serious athlete wants nothing to slow him or her down. Clothing can restrict you, hinder you, slow you down. This shows how much the athlete values his training.

Now, this verse says that godliness is so important that if it were an athletic sport, you'd want to strip down to nothing and practice it every day. It says that godliness is so important that it has value not only for every day living, but also for life after death. Where we end up after we die depends upon godliness.

So, what is “godliness”?

Godliness is translated from a Greek word that literally means, “good worship”. It was used to describe a person who loved to worship God and practiced doing what was important. It means to believe only what is true, and acting upon what you believe.

That finally leads to what I'm really trying to say:

What is important in life?

The Bible says that Jesus was God, that he took on the body and life of an ordinary person, that he lived absolutely without sin, that he died to pay the penalty for the sin of every other person who had ever lived or ever will live, and that he came back to life after three days in the grave. This is the one we call Saviour and Lord.

Godliness is believing this and acting like it is so important that we strip away everything that might hinder us so that we can love God and do good for those around us. Getting “naked” for God doesn't mean taking off our means getting rid of anything that distracts or hinders us from enjoying Him.

So what am I trying to tell you? Here is what's important in life:

1. You need to decide what you think about the Bible. Either it is a hodge-podge of stories, some good, some confusing, or it is the absolutely true Word of God. If it is absolutely true, then you've got to spend at least five minutes every day reading a part of it and asking God to help you understand it and make it real in your life. If it's not absolutely true, then you can't trust any of it, and you should ignore it. But you've got to make a decision, and if it is absolutely true, you can't take the chance of missing out on what it says.

2.You need to thank God every day for what He's doing for you. You need to honor Him in your heart and mind, thinking of Him as the greatest person who exists.

3.You need to find friends who think about God in the same way that you do. Spend time with them to encourage them, and learn from them, and work together with them to help other people.

I need to remember these things more than anyone else. I struggle with keeping the important things first in my life. We all have things we sometimes do that makes us feel badly because they don't honor God and they hurt us, either emotionally or physically. But if we don't have a relationship with God, everything else will be empty, and our problems will seem so unending that we'd eventually become grouchy, depressed, cynical, old people with no hope.

I don't want to feel overwhelmed by life and think that what I see is all I get. A daily, living, sincere relationship with the God who created me is absolutely necessary to get me through the stress.

But more than just helping us have a better life here on earth, a right relationship with God is absolutely necessary for eternity. The Bible says that our sin separates us from God, and if we die separated from God, we die as strangers to Him, without hope, without any right to living with him after we die. We've all got sins, and nothing we do is sufficient to pay for them. Our only hope is to accept the sacrifice that Jesus gave...his death pays the penalty for our sin, and his resurrection is the proof that God will accept us as His children and will bring us to Himself when we die.

This is a life or death decision, and it has to be made by each person before he or she dies. Has God forgiven my sin because Jesus died for me, or am I free to make up any kind of religion that makes me feel good? If Jesus is not who he said he was, then he's either a madman or a wicked, lying devil. If he's who he says he was, we have to act on what he said.

So, this is meant to be a reminder to myself, and an encouragement to you: get naked for God! Strip off anything that distracts you. Strip off your worries and ignore the devil's attempts to mislead you. Make a relationship with God the most important part of your life, and everything else will fall into place.