Fitbit Spirituality – Dr. James Emery White Christian Blog
I just received my annual report from Fitbit for 2021.
My busiest day was August 9 with 21,631 steps. I have no idea what I did that day, but whatever it was, I did a lot.
My total steps for the year came in at 3,847,612. The report told me that was like dancing to 10,632 of my favorite songs. Probably not the best analogy for me…
My total number of exercise days – 301 – was encouraging. The community average was apparently 97. Just writing that last sentence felt like posting that I had finished my daily Wordle on the second try.
I love my Fitbit. I like to reach my daily goal of 10,000 steps. I like to hit my goal of exercising five days a week. It takes physical activity and fitness and makes it simple and quantifiable.
Have you ever wished for a spiritual Fitbit? Something that would tell you that you have reached your spiritual milestones for the day – such as in minutes of prayer, the number of times you followed God’s will, or the number of times temptation was resisted – and through everything this, any idea of your position with God?
Don’t wish it. Run away from him. That would be the opposite of authentic spirituality. This created the tension between Jesus and the religious leaders of his day, the “teachers of the law” and the group known as the Pharisees. They were very religious and considered the holiest people of the time. They had taken the Old Testament and calculated that it contained 248 commandments and 365 prohibitions, and they took them out and swore to obey each one of them. And just to make sure they didn’t break any of those rules, they made rules about rules and laws about laws – like in over 1,500 additions.
To avoid pronouncing the name of the Lord in vain, they even refused to say the name of God, even in honor and respect, worship or prayer.
To avoid committing adultery, they lowered their heads whenever they met a woman so that they would not even look at her, because if they looked they might lust after her. This is why the holiest of all were called “bleeding Pharisees” because they bowed their heads so much that they always bumped into walls.
They also decided that on holy days a person could eat but not cook; that you could bandage an injured person but not apply medicine. And if you were a woman, you couldn’t look at yourself in the mirror because you might see a gray hair, and if you saw a gray hair, you might be tempted to pull it out, and pulling out a gray hair was considered work, and you couldn’t work that day.
All of these things are religion. But Christianity is do not on religion, it is a relationship. When you talk about religion or legalism, it quickly turns into a game on the system. You can play like a tax lawyer would. Loopholes and technical details; the letter of the law, but never its spirit.
(You can also do this with a Fitbit. I gained steps just by driving my car. I moved my hand like I was walking, and I got credit for walking, but I was sitting the whole time. weather.)
Jesus is not after my 10,000 steps. He’s after the kind of person I am when I walk, no matter how many steps I take.
And that’s something that only God can follow.
James Emery White
Philippe Yancey, The Jesus I never knew.
Philippe Yancey, What’s so amazing about Grace.
About the Author
James Emery White is the founder and senior pastor of Mecklenburg Community Church in Charlotte, North Carolina, and the assistant professor of theology and culture at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, where he also served as their fourth president. His last book After “I believe” is now available on Amazon or at your favorite bookstore. To take advantage of a free subscription to the Church & Culture blog, visit ChurchAndCulture.org, where you can view past blogs in our archive and read the latest church and culture news from around the world. Follow Dr. White on TwitterFacebook and Instagram @JamesEmeryWhite.