The Kingdom of God is like a man who decided to start lifting weights.
He was out of shape (unless round is a shape, or pear is the preferred body style). He knew he had to change something. His objective was to be more than a conqueror in the battle of the bulge.
As he went into the health club, he had hopeful memories of the weight room when he was in high school. There was no condemnation for him then.
First up, the bench press. Every man needs big pectorals, so he loaded the bar with three 45-pound plates on each side. This was going to be a reminder of how strong he truly is. He had something to prove to himself.
He grabbed the bar and tried to move it. He couldn’t even get it off of the rack. No movement; not even an inch. He took one plate off of each side. Still no movement. He was discouraged, even overwhelmed, by the reality that he needed to be able to move three plates on each side, but he simply did not have the strength to move it.
Near tears, he took another plate off of each side. “How sad,” he thought to himself. “Do I even have muscles?” Slowly, he began to move the bar off of the rack and managed to get a few reps. He was incredibly discouraged. Maybe lifting weights was a bad idea. He didn’t even know if he should lift weights or if he believed it was a good thing for anyone to do. He left unsure if he would ever be back.
The next day, he was sore — really sore. He didn’t want to lift at all. It hurt and was quite depressing, anyway. But he dragged himself to the gym. He had paid a lot of money for the membership, after all.
As time went by, he continued to lift, one plate on each side. But he noticed he could squeeze out a few more reps and even a few more sets. One day, he added more weight. Not the full three plates, but more than before. He was getting stronger.
Then, one day, he entered the gym and was surprised to discover the gym added a policy stating that anyone who could not bench with three plates on each side of the bar could no longer work out at the gym. He was devastated. He had to lift it, but he couldn’t even lift it off of the rack the last time he tried.
Slowly, grudgingly, he began to load the bar. “This will not go well for me,” he thought. Lying underneath the bar, he knew it was his moment of truth. He pushed the bar as hard as he could.
It didn’t move.
He became more and more upset. In anger, he screamed and pushed at the same time and the bar came off of the rack. He moved the weight! Arms straight he had renewed focus and energy. He began to move the weight downward and everything gave out. The bar hit him hard in the sternum. He felt the crunch of the cartilage and he knew something was very wrong. Not only was the weight heavier than he could lift, but now he was severely injured. How would he ever be able to make it through this? How would he be able to show his face in the gym again? He was humiliated and embarrassed.
Suddenly, two body builders ran over and each one grabbed a side. They became like a shadow of a great rock to him because of their size. Slowly and carefully, they lifted the weight and placed it gently back on the rack.
Hanging his head in shame, the man slowly sat up, reeling from the pain in his chest. Admitting defeat, he said to them, “I will leave. And I won’t be back.”
“Why not?” they asked in unison.
“Because I couldn’t lift the weight,” the man said with his head hung low.
“But you did lift the weight. We saw you struggling. We knew you were going to need help. But no one ever said you had to lift the weight by yourself. You are welcome here anytime.”
He who has an ear, let him hear…
May you always work to become stronger in your faith. May the things that cause you grief now become things that develop strength in you for later. May you find the strength of God’s community as rulers rule with justice in your life — when the weight is too much. May you experience the inseparable love of Christ. And may you become more than a conqueror through Him who loved us.