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What Kind of Christian “Are” You?

Filed in Christian Yoga by on May 10, 2011 18 Comments
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Last week I posted an article and video titled “Should Christians Practice Yoga” and “Why Christians Practice Yoga.” In the article I explained that we have liberty in Christ and that there is only one God, according to 1 Corinthians Chapter 8. Therefore, if a Christian desires to practice yoga or Christian yoga unto the Lord, God will honor his or her worship.  However, if a Christian believes yoga is ungodly, that they should abstain from yoga, for whatever is not of faith is sin.

Well of course, I wasn’t expecting to change Christian’s minds or beliefs regarding yoga. That was never my intention.  I know that the controversy over yoga, Christian or otherwise, will continue. But it did slightly bother me when I received an email stating, “What kind of Christian are you? My son thinks you’re a Jehovah Witness.” (Huh?) The rest of the letter went on to tell me the evils in practicing yoga. I replied with a brief response and let it go, but when I woke up the next morning, my spirit was heavy because I’m sure I offended many other Christians as well.

I prayed to the Lord at that moment and asked, “Lord, tell me if I am wrong because I don’t want to lead people astray.” And the Lord instantly put these words in my heart, “Don’t become a slave to fear.”

As I meditated on these words and what they meant, I began to reflect upon how the spirit of fear has shaped our behaviors and our world as a whole.

Fear of losing something or someone produces worry, jealousy, over protectiveness, and/or covetousness.

Fear of losing control promotes anger, insecurity, and possessiveness.

Fear of lack promotes greed, selfishness, and competition.

Fear of religion produces prejudice, hatred, intolerance, separation, and even murder.

These common fears circulate throughout our world daily. But what does fear look like within the church? When you reflect upon the message from your pulpit, are you receiving a weekly dosage of faith, love, peace, or fear, intolerance, and legalism?

I once attended a church many years ago where all of the women seemed vibrant and glowing. I couldn’t put my finger on it, but they were ALL so beautiful. As I continued to observe these women I began to notice commonalities between them. First of all, all of the women had very long healthy hair. I also noticed that they all wore long dresses, didn’t have on any makeup and no jewelry of any kind. I attend several more sessions and really enjoyed the pastor’s messages. Then on about my fourth visit, in which I had worn pants, makeup and jewelry, the pastor’s message abruptly changed. He went on a long litany regarding what he claimed God said about a woman’s appearance. Well as you can imagine, he began denouncing all of fore-mentioned and used the Bible as his justification.

Now the Bible does tell women to be modest, but some churches turn it into an unspoken law and take it to an extreme in an effort to swell lustful thoughts and inclinations of the male church population.  Their fear of impropriety has put many women in bondage. Yet, Jesus said that if “your” right hand offends you, cut off “your” right hand. He also stated, if “your” left eye causes you to sin, pluck it out. He didn’t say change or alter what’s tempting you.  In other words, get the lust out of your own heart, and then the temptation will have no power over you!

My question to the Christian that fears yoga is “Why?”  This is a rhetorical question because I already know the answer. We serve the God of the universe, the Alpha and Omega, the King of Kings, and Lord of Lords. When Elijah challenged the people of Baal to a duel of the Gods, he gave them free rein for the better part of the day. He said, build your altar, make it bigger, scream louder, maybe your God is asleep! Even if their gods had a little power, Elijah knew that their power was no match for the true and living God. He wasn’t the least bit intimidated or fearful that these so called little gods would overtake him or get the victory.  When you know the power that you have and who you are in Christ, you don’t have to defend yourself or even put others down. You just need to believe, stand in faith and love, and the results will show for themselves.

Many years ago my spirit was so vexed listening to so-called Christians calling in a radio program concerning the national day of prayer. The topic was, “Should the president allow other faiths (other than Christians) to pray?” Over and over, Christians (or so-called Christians) were calling in and hurling out insults regarding other religions and the legislators for allowing anyone other than Christians to pray. Listening to their fear and intolerance made me nauseated. In my mind, what a wonderful opportunity to lift of the name of Jesus amongst all religions. Who knows, when the Christians prayed in unity, LOVE, and power, the glory of God may have come down and touched the hearts of everyone in the place and God would have been gloried. Just like he did when Elijah called down the fire of God from heaven and in one swoop it destroyed the altar that Elijah had created.

As Christians, it is not our job to judge and demean others or their religions. All we have to do is lift up the name of Jesus and the Bible says that ALL men will be drawn unto Him. Are the so-called god’s of yoga greater than our Lord? Why are we giving them so much power, allegiance, and attention in the first place? Paul said that an idol is nothing! Therefore if it is nothing, why not treat it as such? If Christians want to use yoga, which has more benefits than almost any other form of exercise, to improve their bodies, minds, and spirit in a positive way and as unto the Lord, what’s so evil about that?

Jesus said in Matthew 15:8, these people worship me with their lips but their hearts are far from me.  God also said that man judges by outward appearances, but God judges the intent of the heart.  In 1 Chronicles 28:9, God told Solomon, “And you, my son Solomon, acknowledge the God of your father, and serve him with wholehearted devotion and with a willing mind, for the Lord searches every heart and understands every motive behind the thoughts.” When a Christian practices yoga, God isn’t looking at the poses, he’s not even looking at what comes out of our mouths, He’s looking at the motives in our heart. Is our heart filled with whole-hearted devotion or are we just going through the motions?  Just like a person can go to church every Sunday for years, sing all the right songs, and say all the right things and have never have a personal relationship with God, so can a person practice yoga and love the Lord their God with all their heart.

If we need to focus on anything, it’s getting the fear, sin, negativity, and smudges out of our own hearts so that we can create a vessel that God can dwell in. It is that we deny ourselves and our own motives, so that God can live, move, and have our being. I believe there is so much more poison and evil residing in our own hearts at this very moment that is far more lethal than yoga will ever be.  I also believe, as a Christian yoga practitioner, that the elements of yoga (deep breathing, fitness, meditation) can be a wonderful “tool” to help us achieve this goal. The emphasis being “tool.” Yoga helps us to quiet our minds and much like meditation, can help us to identify and release the evils that plague so many Christian hearts- pride, fear, selfish, greet, hate, anger, and intolerance.

We need to choose the right battles and fear the right things. The scriptures tell us to Fear God! He is the only one with any real power. You may fear demons, but you have the power to cast them out. If you want to banish evil, you can find much better places to begin than yoga. I say, begin with your own heart. Examine your mind and thoughts in light of the fruit of the spirit. Do you judge, are you angry, do you doubt, are you a worrier, are you greedy, are you selfish, jealous, deceitful, manipulative, mean spirited, critical, a gossiper, or judgmental?

As each one of us brings our whole minds and bodies under the authority of Jesus Christ, we will be one less step away from creating a world that manifests God’s Spirit which is love, joy, peace, and faith. And these will go so much further in winning the world for Christ than denouncing yoga or any other practice we may disapprove of.

This sweeping fear that yoga is going to lead us away from God, worship idols, and open ourselves to other spirits is both unfounded and insulting to intelligent Christians. No one whose heart is right towards God needs to fear any of these things. When we go to a restaurant we don’t ponder whether the food was prepared in honor of an idol, however, depending upon the type of food you’re eating and their religious faith, there is a good chance that it is. No, we do as Paul said, and we eat the food and don’t worry about the intent of the preparer because we know that an idol is nothing to the Christian.

Many years ago Proctor and Gamble Corporation was said to worship satan and promoted the mark of the beast: yet, I would assume that the majority of Christians aren’t checking their detergent labels to see where they are manufactured and then boycotting certain companies. If the above is true, are we encouraging satanism and demon possession every time we watch a load of clothes?

And by the way, no I’m not a Jehovah Witness! I’m a born-again believer and disciple of Jesus Christ who wants to be led by the Holy Spirit and God’s Word instead of the rules and regulations of man. My heart-felt desire is to rid my heart and mind of the things that corrupt my spirit so that Christ can dwell in and work through me. It is a continual process.

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About the Author ()

Stressed, worried, or feeling disconnected from God. Learn how Christian meditation can restore your peace, joy, and intimacy with God. Rhonda Jones is the author of 25 Christian meditation and affirmation Cds. Listen to over 52 Christian meditation and affirmation sample recordings The Christian Meditator Store.

Comments (18)

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  1. Rhonda,

    Thank you for this post. It’s very important to check in and see if we are coming from a place of fear or faith. I don’t practice yoga (yet) but I certainly try to be still and quiet each day. When I do, I am able to hear and connect with God and when I don’t the external chatter of the world makes it that much more difficult.

    Warm regards,

    Camara

  2. Ann Musico says:

    Rhonda – that was a very thoughtful, well expressed post and I wholeheartedly agree! Let’s keep our eyes on Jesus and stop worrying about these petty differences. Out of our heart comes the issues of life according to scripture – so let’s guard our hearts and truly walk in love. Thank you for sharing this.

  3. Nan Betz says:

    I will tell you, I am the kind of Christian who tries to mind her own business & not make up a lot of rules to keep my friends under control! I believe we have too many “rules” that have nothing to do with Gods commandments. I do not practice yoga beyond the stretches & poses I can manage. I don’t go for the spritual aspect of it but see the physical part as a gift from God to stregthen my body. Folks that use shame or fear are not getting the picture of Christ!

  4. Nancy says:

    Right on Rhonda!! Your words ring true. I am recovering from surgery and being laid up in bed a few months back and feel God is leading me to STRETCH…this is something He has always told me since becoming a Christian 15 years ago. It opens up the body and the spirit. No matter what you call it. Stretching, Yoga..I do it to worship music. It is our inner and outer “posture” (pose) towards God. Whether bowing and kneelling in Child’s pose ” Mat 10 13-16, I tell you the truth, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.”, or Stretching our arms wide and lifting our hearts (chests) towards heaven in surrender. Each time I do this, God always reminds me of how long Jesus stayed that way on The Cross. You words and especially meditations have brought me back from the brink after the death of my husband 2 years ago. Helped me settle my mind from spinning thoughts and center myself on Jesus and His Truth. Keep following the Living Spirit of God..living in you. YAWEH is my Mantra!!

  5. Fernando Fernandez says:

    I’m with you ! Cuando Cristo, vino al mundo, vino a buscar lo que se habia perdido, no vino a juzgar sino a salvar. El hombre teme a lo que no conoce,y juzga mas al projimo que a sí mismo, no vé sus errores ,es facil criticar a los demás. Muchas veces nosotros los cristianos nos convertimos en fariseos, conociendo la verdad, no la vivimos. Keep on going, God works in different ways with each one of us ! La Palabra me dice que pongamos nuestra confianza en Él, no en el hombre. It’s what God says, not what men says. Pray to those who are against us and leave it in His hands. Dios te bendiga mucho !

  6. allenbe says:

    I like to pick fights as well. Sometimes I can learn something. Maybe I will see things from another angle.

  7. Trish Kacsalap says:

    Rhonda,
    Thank you for honestly seeking God’s wisdom to clarify issues such as this one. I read with interest your perspective on yoga for Christians, as I have grappled with this for a few years now. I believe you are correct. God is one and only, and the false gods of any pagan faith truly are not gods (Gal. 4:8) and thus have no power over Him.
    Therefore we should not fear. Nor judge others who have a conviction about yoga being a tool for the wicked one.
    I believe the benefits of this practice can be accessed by Christians, who possess the Holy Spirit.
    God bless you for sharing your insight!

  8. Lorraine A. says:

    Dear Rhonda,
    I am a Christian, and I practice yoga daily – i will not let anyone Christian or otherwise try to tell me otherwise that this is an evil thing. That is narrowminded at its fullest. We DO have freedom in Christ, and those that point their fingers at others ought to just maybe ask the LORD what their intention is – and to search their heart and ask what kind of Christian am i — a pharisee? God Bless you Rhonda, i am truly blessed by this article, you are a blessing, i enjoy your meditation CD’s that i’ve gotten in the past, and use them regularly — peace, & grace to you, In Christ – Lorraine (NJ)

  9. Heather says:

    I don’t always read your blog and haven’t commented, but I get your meditation emails. It is a blessing to have those simple reminders in my inbox. I recently skimmed and was saddened by a very long fear-filled article written by a lady (I forget her name) who used to practice yoga and now denounces it as evil. I think based on your qualifications/training you may be familiar with her, and that caused me to wonder about your position on this issue though I had sort of forgotten about that until this post. Her page just kept scrolling down further and further like an endless fear-and guilt -inducing infomercial. I felt so sad that she was taking her precious time to try to preach against yoga and re-invent yoga with moves that, really, are basically yoga. She must be spinning in circles. It was refreshing to read your writing, articulating the relevant issues so “right-on.” I hope you have many receptive readers to this article.

  10. Casey says:

    Some believers have more faith in the power of the Devil then they do Christ! If i do yoga or meditate and my focus is on Christ and the promptings of the Holy Spirit then how could that be bad? In fact, I could sit in a Muslim mosque or Buddhist temple while they were chanting to their deity and still commune with Jesus! Their religion has absolutely no power over me! My faith is in Christ! Sorry you got blasted by religious folks. Blessings, Casey

  11. Beth says:

    Rhonda,

    Thank you for this post. I really enjoy your meditations and I especially liked this post today. I blogged recently about the same subject, moving from fear to love:

    http://www.theroadtofaith.com/2011/02/one-thing-or-the-other/

    I can tell that this was a beautiful God inspired process. You backed up everything you said with scripture too. Now, someone might be able to argue your words, but not Gods!! Not only was this a good reminder to not be judgmental of other Christians but also how to handle being judged with grace that only comes from above. Sometimes something hurtful can become something beautiful.

    Thanks so much.

    P.S. – I love practicing Yoga, but haven’t in a while. It’s a wonderful way to connect to your faith!

  12. Brenna says:

    We as christians should everyday live a church without walls and for our own salt to remain teachable and should not put god in a box. For someone to put you down only has an insecurity of themselves, you don’t seem to me to be asking the question as a statement but a mere chance to open people’s minds and make them think. You help alot of people just keep dong what your doing. Thanks for everything. Love always Brenna

  13. James Cook says:

    Well said Rhonda. It’s sad how many Christian today are under the bondage of Grace plus Works. Even Paul stated that Grace does not allow us to practice sin freely but does give us freedom from the Law that was fulfilled by Christ on the cross.

    As far as Yoga goes, it’s a compilation of beneficial stretches and strength exercises. If you decide to do ungodly mantras, transcendental meditation, or practice another religion that puts self first, that’s another matter.

  14. Pam Day says:

    I acknowledge your willingness to share your experiences and tools to help others gain a deeper relationship with God. Keep up the good work and keep sharing.

    I believe that God asks us to share our stories, our experience and our expertise. Those who are ready to learn will show up. Those who aren’t ready, may be triggered. It’s all perfect. You are doing your part and God honors that.

    Peace,
    Pam Day

  15. Jeffney says:

    Thank you Rhonda for sharing this about yoga. As a Christian, I understand what you are saying and the scripture that you backed it up with. However, I would caution Christians who are young in the faith or maybe weak in their walk with the Lord to be careful not to expose themselves to things that could confuse them or sway them as a full-blown yoga class with mantras and all the rest would/could do.

    I do believe in Christian yoga as a class, or on your own, as a way to be still and focus on God. You would be getting spiritually AND physically stronger! Bless you. I’m glad to know you are a spirit-filled believer and follower of Jesus Christ, as it gives me more confidence in your meditation products! Thank you.

  16. Naomi says:

    yoga is not biblical…it is a pagan practice. if we are experiencing something spiritual through it then this is not of God, but from the devil. its as simple as that. “And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light” – 2 Corinthians 11:14 [KJV] it might seem attractive and harmless but the truth is we are dabbling in pagan rituals which the bibke clearly states is wrong. we are NOT worshipping God by doing yoga. in fact we are tainted by association. it doesnt matter what your intentions are while doing yoga, it does not give glory to God.
    each yoga pose opens us up to different evil spirits.

  17. Sandip says:

    So before Christ was born, all human beings created by God were nonreligious or practiced false religion?
    So why did God create them?

  18. Sandip says:

    “Ungodly mantras?”
    Why do you Christians have to insult other faiths?
    Do the Hindus insult Christianity?
    If this is your way of religion then thank God, we hindus don’t follow any religion!

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What Kind of Christian “Are” You?