“All athletes are disciplined in their training. They do it to win a prize that will fade away, but we do it for an eternal prize. So I run with purpose in every step. I am not just shadowboxing. I discipline my body like an athlete, training it to do what it should.” (I Cor.9:25-27)
Is your body disciplined? Is your body a servant and not a master? Is your body obedient to the spiritual demands of the moment? Is your body running smoothly, operating efficiently, and humming along quietly without glitch, objection or trouble? It can be.
In Christian Science, a student learns not to focus on the body, on matter, material objectives, goals and aims. A matter-focus detracts from a Spirit-focus, takes thought away from God and creates a feeling of separation, even alienation, from God, the infinite divine Love that supplies all needs.
But in this demonstration of Life in Spirit, there is also the simultaneous need to be sure thought is not lazily, apathetically, or ignorantly cultivating life in matter, in the body. This error manifests itself in the many different ways mortal mind seeks comfort in the flesh; for example, through over-indulgence of appetite, gluttony, becoming a couch-potato, idling hours away doing nothing, excess entertainment of the senses or pursuit of self-gratification, constantly seeking pleasure through the senses, and so on. These indulgences of sense can lead to a body that feels out of control, is not disciplined, obedient and humming along smoothly.
Paul tells us to discipline our bodies like athletes.
Yet, I don’t believe Paul means take up a physical regimen to discipline the body. Nowhere does he talk about lifting weights at the gym, running five miles a day, or completing 50 push-ups. He is writing about a spiritual discipline, a metaphysical discipline of the mind that brings thought strictly into line with truth and thus the body right behind it.
Paul was a focused man. He knew his goal. He knew his Master. He knew his God. He knew what he wanted to accomplish in his ministry. And he knew what was not worth putting time and effort into. He focused all his energy, time and hard work into reaching his spiritual goal of preaching the gospel, healing the sick and bearing witness to Christ. And the effect of his strong spiritual discipline was to bring his body into submission of fulfilling those spiritual goals. His body was a servant, not a master, to his spiritual objectives.
Mary Baker Eddy caught the right essence of exercising spiritual dominion over the body in this message,
“Take possession of your body, and govern its feeling and action. Rise in the strength of Spirit to resist all that is unlike good. God has made man capable of this, and nothing can vitiate the ability and power divinely bestowed on man.” (S&H 393:10)
“Take possession of your body…” equals “take possession of your thinking.”
We take possession of our thinking by letting God take possession of our life activity, by yielding to the one Mind, serving the one God, pursuing spiritual objectives and aims, getting focused on Spirit and demonstrating the power and authority of the one Mind over every circumstance we face.
Train like an athlete today. Keep your thought strictly in line with Truth. Serve God, not self. Eliminate flabby, lazy, fearful, wasteful and unproductive thinking. Exercise thought to be spiritually inspired, uplifted and worthwhile. The body will fall into line with the harmony and order that pervades the thought that governs it. Disciplined thought shapes a disciplined body.