Jesus said to him, "No one who puts a hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God." Luke 9:62
If one is melancholic, Jesus' words sound final and fatal. "You had your chance and you blew it. You turned back, so you're lost for good."
But we can hear the words more soberly, as a simple statement of what is. We all "turn back" from God's perfection, again and again and again. We prefer the passingly pleasant and predictable to the hard path to life. We get out of shape for the things of God - we are unfit. And the danger is that we become so discouraged by how out of shape we get that we give up on getting fit.
We need to train, and we can. Last Sunday's lesson from II Timothy commends training through
"...the sacred writings that are able to instruct you for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus."
Christians get fit by regular reading or hearing of Scripture and applying the word to real life. The passage goes on to say that Scripture is breathed by God to help us learn, identify and recover from mistakes, and to train us toward the perfection of the kingdom:
"All scripture is inspired by God and is useful for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness..."
The training is not toward an illusion of fitness like the machine produced models on the check out counter magazines, the secular version of "plaster saints." Rather our training is through little expressions of the kingdom of God that we can carry out in the here an now:
"...so that everyone who belongs to God may be proficient, equipped for every good work."
As James puts it we can become, "Not just hearers, but 'doers' of the word." In doing the word, we become fit to run with the One who breathed it. Quite the improvement in respiration!