At the tail end of this summer I had the opportunity to speak at an area wide event called Youth Week. Each main session speaker was videoed and the session was put on YouTube. As soon as I clicked on my YouTube link I was disappointed with what I saw. My disappointment had nothing to do with the video quality or what I said…I realized I had let myself go physically. At that point I weighed 150 lbs, which might not sound like much but for a 5’10” armless guy I was carrying to much weight and weighed more than I have ever weighed in my life.
It was time to change. At first I started running on my own and changing my eating habits. Then after some encouragement from my good friend Brad I joined up with CrossFit Wilson . I’m only about 3 weeks in but I have been thrilled with how things have gone and the progress I’ve made so far.
I think one of the most humbling things is the realization that my body and well being is a gift from God. In 1 Corinthians 6 Paul refers to the body as “the temple of the Holy Spirit” and that we should”glorify God with our body”. Now while the context of those verses comes in abstaining from sexual immorality, I think the principle remains. Am I glorifying God with this body that I’ve been given?
I don’t want this to seem like a rant against out of shape people or to say that being overweight is a sin. However, I do think it is time to see out bodies a gift we’ve been entrusted with. Our bodies are an investment. Even if one day we will begin to age and our bodies will begin to breakdown, that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try to maintain what we have. If that were the case, why should we maintain our cars? Why spend money on oil changes and transmission fluid flushes if the car will just go to the junkyard one day? We take care of our cars because we see them as an investment. We should look at our bodies in the same way: an investment given to us by God. Which is a convicting idea as a pastor. A quick trip to a pastor’s convention will reveal that many guys in ministry have put on the pounds. Certainly that can be attributed to the busy nature of the job, the stress and few opportunities to eat well on the run, but we as pastors ought to set the bar in caring for the bodies God has blessed us with.
I am not going to give you any sort of guilt trip on why fitness is important for the Christian, but here are some benefits I have seen in having an active lifestyle:
1) The physical health aspect
It is a somewhat well known fact that the leading cause of death in the world is heart disease. According to the World Health Organization, many of these deaths are preventable with adjustments in diet, exercise and quitting smoking. Throw in the benefits of having a better looking beach body while you’re on vacation and the physical benefits seem quite appealing.
2) More energy
I have no idea why this is the case, but I have more energy when I am working out. Take today for example: I got up at 6:30 am to eat breakfast and go workout, which is earlier than I would ever get up normally. So naturally one would think that with less sleep and more physical work that I would be exhausted for the rest of the day. It is exactly the opposite. I have a ton of energy now and I’ll give credit to the hard work put in at the gym and the endorphins that get released after a workout.
3) Opportunities for community and evangelism
There is something about being active with other people, whether is be a running club, gym membership or team sport, that builds rerlationships. At CrossFit Wilson, it has been awesome to enjoy community with other believers and church leaders that workout there. Just as importantly, I get to meet people who need the gospel that I might not normally meet. The relationships built can profit myself but they can also be used to share the gospel.
My expectation is not that we have churches full of people with big biceps and six pack abs. I just hope that we tend to the investment that God has given to us. All I ask is that we try.