In my previous post I wrote that CrossFit is often accused of elitism, and I concluded that it was guilty. Its mission of “forging elite fitness” has indeed led its adherents to elitism. In other words, they truly believe that they are training the most well-rounded, fittest human beings on earth.
I argued that elitism is a natural and necessary part of life. But does elitism have to be synonymous with pride? I asked, is it possible to embrace something that’s true in a way that doesn’t lead to a superiority complex? Is it possible to be elitist and yet not look down at the people who don’t see things the way that you do? That’s what I’d like to explore in this post.
[Fair warning: I know that not everyone who reads this blog is a follower of Jesus, just like not everyone is a CrossFitter. That’s where I’m coming from, however, and I hope that I at least can help you understand what resources the Christian faith gives for holding “elitist” views with as much humility as possible.]
The funny thing is, the longer I do CrossFit, the more humbled I am. Don’t get me wrong, I am blown away by the results. But every workout kicks my butt, leaves me on my back, makes me think about how much farther I have to go.
And I’m thinking that’s the point: to crush my sense of superiority and sufficiency and to train myself to become somebody worth being. Maybe that’s why I like CrossFit – it somehow humbles me and encourages me at the same time.
But if I’m not careful, something that ought to produce humility actually engenders pride.
Like almost anything else, CrossFit can become a functional Savior – it can become one more thing to add to our image, one more fix to patch up our insecurity, one more argument to justify ourselves, to tell ourselves that we matter, to define our identities over against the “un-enlightened ones”.
“Thank God I’m not like those Globo-gym idiots at XSport!”
The problem with most of our functional Saviors is that they engender despair when we fail (“I am worthless”) and arrogant superiority when we succeed (“you are worthless.”)
I think the same thing is true when we replace Jesus with religion. Something that is supposed to produce humility actually leads us to pride.
“Thank God I’m not like those __________!” (Pagans, Democrats, Republicans, etc. Fill in the blank with your favorite group to feel superior towards.)
What bothers me most about Christianity is not the elitism of our doctrine. Everyone is elitist at the end of the day. Everyone’s a fundamentalist, we just have different fundamentals.
What bothers me is the fact that our doctrine has often led us to disdain for those not like us – even while the Scriptures say that all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.
What bothers me is the attitude of arrogance and superiority that we often wear like a badge, even while the Scriptures say that we are justified not because we are smarter or better than anyone else, but simply because of God’s undeserved kindness.
It’s the sneering rhetoric that we celebrate(!) on talk radio shows while affirming our belief that we are so bad that God had to come himself to bleed for us.
One of the things I love about the writings of Paul in the New Testament is he is always pointing out how Jesus destroys any ground we might have for boasting about how good we are, or for feeling superior to anyone else.
The Cross humbles us – because Jesus had to die for us, that’s how deeply flawed we are – AND gives us confidence – because Jesus was glad to die for us, that’s how deeply loved we are.
Humility and Confidence. Openness and Elitism.
CrossFit helps me with this during my workouts.
The Cross does it for my entire life.
Question: Any final thoughts or questions on CrossFit, or what I’ve written during the series?