Couch potato Christians won't change the world

May 27th, 2016

Since my high school days, I’ve wanted a body like Bruce Lee’s. I got close when I was younger, but these days I wonder if there’s a way to look like that without putting in the necessary work and dedication.

I’m at the point of my life when I can no longer afford to eat anything I want and not exercise. So I decided to be proactive.

I reached out to a former student who works at GNC and knows one or two things about working out and exercising. He came up with a workout plan that lined up with what I was aiming for.

I read over that plan — it was very doable. I looked at it. Reread it. Googled the exercises to confirm that I was thinking of the right ones.

About two weeks after receiving the workout routine, the student followed up and asked how the workouts were coming along.

I hadn’t been to the gym yet. But I had the entire routine memorized.

The exercises. The reps. The time of rests between. The average length of each workout. I even knew where the machines were located on the gym. So I mapped out — all in my head — how to move around the gym. Now I’m able go through the whole workout while sitting comfortably on my couch.

As I cursed my former student for holding me accountable, I began to realize that this sort of inaction also seeps into my faith journey.

Let’s face it — in order to see change in our lives, sacrifices have to be made. Things actually have to change.

It frustrates me when churches want to change while wanting to remain the same. Congregations request younger clergy to help draw a younger crowd but then are upset when the young clergyperson wants to change things within the church.

The truth is, we can’t hold on to everything and expect things to turn out differently.

We can’t get healthy by eating whatever we want and never exercising. And a church can’t get healthier by doing things the way it has always done them.

I’m reminded of the words from James: “You must be doers of the word and not only hearers who mislead themselves.” (1:22)

Knowledge is power. Yet, one can be filled with knowledge and still know nothing. I believe knowledge is power when we implement the knowledge we’ve gained.

Anyone can read the Gospels. Anyone can talk a good game.

But what ultimately matters is can we play? Can we live out the gospel? Can we put our faith and the knowledge we’ve gained from sermons, reading, studying, fellowshipping and conversing into practice?

Knowing only takes us so far. But doing can change the world.

I’ve finally gone to the gym to work out. I still wish there was a way to get healthy by eating anything I want and being a professional couch potato. But that’s crazy thought.

Knowledge can make us puff up. Practice makes us whole.

Joseph Yoo is pastor of St. Mark United Methodist Church in Santa Barbara, California. He is the author of Practical Prayer and Encountering Grace. He blogs at

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