11/3/16 at 01:12 PM 0 Comments

Does God Call Christians to be Physically Fit

text size A A A

As Christians, are we called to be physically fit and healthy? This is a question countless pastors and their congregations have asked – and the Bible actually provides some pretty tangible answers.

What Does the Bible Say?

If you’re going to ask about God’s priorities and what He wants for you, then the best way to start is by reading the scriptures. And when it comes to health and fitness, He actually has a lot to say.

As we know from the very first chapter of Genesis, we are created in God’s image. This makes us a reflection of God and who he is, both physically and spiritually. The Psalms also tell us that we are “fearfully and wonderfully made,” which means God doesn’t just throw some cells together in haphazard form without much thought. He’s intentional with every little detail and forms each person according to His will and design.

Furthermore, John 11 makes it clear that our physical bodies will eventually wither away, while our spiritual bodies will remain forever (and be transformed). This adds a sense of finiteness to our bodies and reminds us that we shouldn’t be pouring every ounce of energy we have into creating some “perfect” body that will one day die off.

1 Corinthians 6:19-20 is perhaps one of the most direct and insightful passages in regards to our bodies and how we are to care for them. It reads, “Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies.”

Clearly, God wants us to respect our bodies. In one sense, this means eating healthy, working out, and taking care of physical needs. After all, you wouldn’t want to treat the temple of the Holy Spirit in any less than stellar manner.

At the same time, we also know that the scriptures warn us against becoming too vain and self-seeking. We are called to seek first the kingdom of God and make Him the priority in everything we do. Healthy eating and fitness routines can easily become selfish obsessions that distract from rather than direct to God. It’s important to maintain a healthy balance between staying fit for the right reasons and doing it to accomplish personal goals that are independent of God’s will.

How to Develop a Godly Fitness Routine

In order to honor your body in a way that’s glorifying to God – without idolizing yourself – you should be pursuing health and fitness in ways that are reflective of His design for who we are.

With that being said, here are some ways to develop a Godly fitness routine.

 1. Spend Time in Nature

One simple way to keep exercise in perspective is by spending time in nature – i.e. God’s creation. When you’re surrounded by His beautiful work, suddenly your attention is going towards Him and not yourself. Snorkeling is one of the best options, simply because it combines a rigorous workout (swimming) with the depths of the sea (arguably one of God’s most astounding creations).

2. Mix Things Up

Diversification is key. You don’t want to spend time obsessing over one type of physical fitness, otherwise, you’ll end up idolizing the routine over the results. A healthy mix of indoor and outdoor exercises along with a variety of cardio, weightlifting, and resistance training is good. If you feel like one particular type of exercise is commanding your life’s attention and focus – such as weightlifting for the purpose of appearing strong and powerful – then that may be a sign that you need to pivot.

3. Be Prayerful

As you exercise, make it a point to pray. When you’re praying, it’s impossible to seek your own agenda. You’re telling God that you’re directing both your physical and spiritual attention to him. That’s a conscious act of discipline that will benefit you both now and in the future.

4. Take Breaks

Finally, make sure you’re taking some breaks. You don’t need to workout seven days a week for two hours per day. If you find yourself working out this much, then it’s a sign that you’re obsessing over your body image, or at least finding comfort in the fact that you can control it. Breaks are wonderful and you shouldn’t feel like you have to be working out at every moment of every day.

Exercise as a Form of Glorification

As you can see, exercise can be both self-fulfilling and God-glorifying at the same time. The key is to find things that point you to God and avoid the ones that build you up with a false sense of security and confidence. So the answer to the question is “yes,” God does call Christians to be physically fit. However, physical fitness should never come at the expense of an inadequate view of the temporary nature of our bodies and the eternal characteristics of our souls.

CP Blogs do not necessarily reflect the views of The Christian Post. Opinions expressed are solely those of the author(s).