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Weekly SNAC 29 July 2018: Ninja Warriors

There is a fair bit of excitement in my household about the latest Ninja Warrior series on TV. We enjoyed the show last year and this season has been fun to watch so far. There is a marked improvement in the contestants this year compared to last year. Many competitors returned from series 1 but the difference is that they are all now training very specifically to meet all the obstacles that the show throws at them. In the US version of the show it took 7 seasons for someone to conquer the whole obstacle course – intense training and practice was required over years to reach that goal. We obviously hope the Australian competitors prove to be faster learners than the US ones!There is a fair bit of excitement in my household about the latest Ninja Warrior series on TV. We enjoyed the show last year and this season has been fun to watch so far. There is a marked improvement in the contestants this year compared to last year. Many competitors returned from series 1 but the difference is that they are all now training very specifically to meet all the obstacles that the show throws at them. In the US version of the show it took 7 seasons for someone to conquer the whole obstacle course – intense training and practice was required over years to reach that goal. We obviously hope the Australian competitors prove to be faster learners than the US ones!

I have to confess there is a part of me – the bit that is in denial and still thinks it is 20 years younger – that would love to have a go at Ninja Warrior. I enjoy my sport, I like to be fit, I used to rock climb – how hard could it be? Well, you only have to watch the successful competitors to see it requires total commitment, the strength and stamina of the young and a punishing training schedule and diet for at least 12 months. 

At moments like this it is good for me to remember Paul’s words in 1 Timothy that “the training of the body has a limited benefit” because I’ll never win Ninja Warrior! I was reminded of what matters even more than dedicated training of the body as we read through 1 Timothy in our Gospel Team this week. Paul writes to his young ministry apprentice Timothy (perhaps a keen sportsman himself?) encouraging him to focus not just on what has some benefit but on what has most benefit. The fuller quote goes like this:

1 Timothy 4:7b: …train yourself in godliness, 8 for 

the training of the body has a limited benefit, but godliness is beneficial in every way, since it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come. 

9 This saying is trustworthy and deserves full acceptance.  10 In fact, we labor and strive for this, because we have put our hope in the living God, who is the  Savior of everyone, especially of those who believe. 

Whether we appreciate physical exercise or not we can all appreciate the focussed dedication of the athlete who wins the Olympic Marathon or conquers Mount Everest or wins Ninja Warrior Australia. But I wonder whether we appreciate that godliness requires even greater devotion, deliberate and focussed training and commitment?                

Paul is saying that godliness is beneficial in every way both now and into eternity whereas on Ninja Warrior you just get some money and temporary acclaim. Paul uses his own example in verse 10: he labours and strives for godliness and he wants Timothy, and all Christians, to do the same.

So, here is a challenge: will we be Ninja Warriors for Jesus? 

Of course I don’t mean lots of physical exercise or dressing up in black pyjamas! I mean, will we commit with even more energetic passion, drive, specific training and discipleship in the way of Jesus and with a determination for godliness than any athlete ever could? That is our challenge! But if we will, with God’s help, then the prize rewards us now and its benefits last forever.   

Jason Veitch