“For I long to see you, that I may impart to you some spiritual gift to strengthen you—that is, that we may be mutually encouraged by each other's faith, both yours and mine.”
The CrossFit world prides itself on community. One of its fundamental elements is the ability to bring people together in the gym for the purpose of getting fit. A couple of the motivators that keep people in the gym are accountability to workout partners and a desire to work out in a group rather than by yourself on the treadmill. Much of what keeps CrossFit popular revolves around the community aspect. More than that, much of what made CrossFit successful in getting people fit is community.
This is not a new concept either. Sports teams are more successful when they are all one community, united for one goal. Business is the same. Community is built into our make-up. Genesis 1 indicates that we are made for relationship. We thrive inside community.
However, often community designed for good is made to be something else. The Ku Klux Klan, Branch Davidians, and ISIS are extreme examples. We are wired for community but often our sin takes what God created for good and morphs it into something bad. Indeed, my flesh is bent on turning what was once good into sin.
Luckily, by the grace of God, some community efforts end with individuals united as one group for a positive impact on the world. CrossFit, if done well, can be to this end. This week I was reading in Romans 1 and I noticed something I missed previously. In verse 11, Paul states one of the reasons he desires to go to Rome. He says that he desires to “impart to you some spiritual gift to strengthen you.” Paul's desire to be a part of the Roman church community is that he might bring something with him to strengthen the new church in the Gospel. However, that isn't the part that caught my eye. In verse 12 he states the second reason he desires to go to the Roman church, “that we may be mutually encouraged by each other's faith, both yours and mine.” He wants to go to Rome because their faith encourages his and his faith encourages theirs. Their community is bent on being mutually encouraging. The community they have created in the church at Rome is one whose influence is encouragement. As soon as I read that statement I immediately thought of the community groups I've been in before, and the friends that I know that exemplify this trait.
When Megan and I moved from Dallas to North Atlanta, we immediately started working out in CrossFit Gwinnett. We chose this gym because, honestly, it was the best training setup for me as I got to train with the number one 69kg weightlifter in the country. When we started working out at the gym it became painfully obvious that we had picked the right place. We enjoyed our time in the gym because every time we leave not only encouraged to continue training, but also with the joy that can only come from a mutually encouraging environment. When I first became a Christian in college there were three or four solid men that I immediately found myself in community with. Two of these men I am still in contact with today and when we get together we leave mutually encouraged in our faith. This is how community was designed to be. Mutually encouraging in our faith.
Is our desire for community formed upon a desire to live and share the Gospel, or is the desire for community formed upon something else? The Gospel creates mutually encouraging community. Our flesh creates community that is solely focused on what we can gain for our good rather than the good of others and the good of the group. Paul went to Rome with the desire to encourage the people in Rome, and he knew that in his time in Rome he would also be encouraged by their faith. The impact of the Gospel in our hearts is to change our lens by which we engage culture. Jesus Christ takes the focus off of me and puts it on others and their good. Are we the type of people that model the Gospel in such a way that our desire is for the good of others and encouragement of others and as result we find ourselves in Gospel-centered community, or do we focus on what we can gain from community and not what we can give?