Free & Fit NYC - “Faith in Jesus Christ found in Fitness Formation through Contemplation in Action”

Free & Fit NYC - The Breath at the Beginning – Spiritual Contemplation -

Faith in Jesus Christ found in Fitness Formation through Contemplation in Action

By Tim Cheux

In the Beginning (Genesis 1: 1, John 1: 1) we were born (Genesis 1: 27), we breathed our first breath (Genesis 2:7) and began our lives on this earth (Genesis 2: 8). For every human being there is a beginning (John 17: 20) and a breath (Acts 2: 4), but for what does this mean to us as Christians (Hebrews 11: 3). In the last breath of Christ (Matthew 27: 46), we all received immediate forgiveness (Psalm 13: 5). We entered this world with a Breath (John 1:1) at the Beginning, our Grace was received at our first, not in our own human strength, but instead it was all made possible in the strength of Jesus last (Philippians 4:13) at Calvary for us all to be redeemed from our sins (John 3: 16).

It is for Freedom that Christ has set us free (Galatians 5:1) to experience the fullness of salvation (John 3:16) and to experience Gods perfect love which casts out all fear (1 John 4:15-21). Through community we can grow in our understanding of loving God and our Neighbour (Matthew 22:36-40) in context to our own tradition, lifestyle, and culture. Through sports or fitness, we can further identify our calling and run our own race (Hebrews 12:1-2) not losing our hope of security in Christ and combining our interests with our spirituality (Psalm 130:4-7 N). Therefore, we should stand firm in our faith (1 Corinthians 6:13), invite others to join our community and celebrate who Jesus us in our own contexts by sharing our common interests together (Hebrews 10:24-25). This should not happen without identifying need for rest (Sabbath), the law (Love God and People) and humility (Surrender to God) of the Lord and redeeming all creation. In order to support wider community and to improve the wellness of congregants within a Church context increasing participation in exercise and social interactions supports the all-round wellness of physical, mental, social, and spiritual health.

In order to establish a strong and pure Christian faith it is important to follow the Spiritual Disciplines that help form our belief in Jesus Christ. Richard Foster states in the Book Celebration of Discipline” that the “Disciplines of Abstinence; (solitude, silence, fasting, frugality, chastity, secrecy, sacrifice) and Disciplines of Engagement (study, worship, celebration, service, prayer, fellowship, confession, submission) are essential practices for every Christian (p. 158, Foster, 1978)”.

Furthermore, in her book “Rugged” Gretchen Ronnevik shares the Spiritual Disciplines of the Spiritually exhausted including the chapters on “God Disciplines Those He Loves, Christ is Always the Way, Dependence not Achievement, Enough, Authority, Privilege and Submission, Freedom through Dependence, Generosity, Lament, Rest and Discipleship (p. Contents, Grettchen, 2021)”. The nucleus of Prayer, Reading the Bible, Worship, Community, Silence (Listening to God), attending Church and developing relationships with fellow believers really strengthens an individual’s faith, but as recognized by Ronnevik and Foster it is essential to find a balance of Prayer and Active formation in our everyday lives.

Therefore, to have an accessible process by which to combine our faith and fitness as one (John 17) it helps to inform our Christian practice of Spirituality through Sport. One way of completing the practice of silence is through contemplation. Richard Rohr introduces to us, through Micah 6:8, the Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Michael Curry’s Way of Love. Rohr and Friends in their book “Contemplation in Action” invites us to “act justly, love tenderly and to walk humbly with our God” through the practice of Silence and Solitude whilst actively practicing our Christian faith. Edwina Gately speaks of the transformation from her practice of silence and following Christ through contemplation. She travelled through homelessness, unemployment and much before she could declare that “Today my life is a gift from a Power greater than myself. That power is, indeed, the Way, the Truth, and the Life (p. 63, Rohr et al, Gately, 2006).

As noted by Block, to overcome a stuck community, “of people that markets fear, assigns fault and worships self-interest", we must bring restoration through Jesus Christ (p. 37, Block, 2018). Through a faith-filled restorative community we can create a space for “accountability chosen by citizens and their willingness to connect with each other around promises they make to each other (p. 49, Block, 2018)”.

Further than just Worship, Community and the Church Dann Wigner explores the concept that individuals need to be given the freedom to try different spiritual disciplines to be able to freely express themselves, their faith and their uniquely different relationship with Jesus Christ. Wagner argues that we are not just made different, beautifully and in the image of God, but that our relationship and spiritual practices also different and we should be able to express ourselves in our faith and fitness differently accordingly (p. Ix, x and xi, Wagner, 2018).