I’m in the middle of Gary Thomas’ latest book, Every Body Matters, and it’s a wonder that I’m not limping around from having my toes stepped on so many times. The book discusses how physical fitness relates to and impacts our spiritual health. In all my years of church attendance and small group Bible studies, I can’t recall hearing a sermon or sitting in on a Sunday school class that addressed the subject of physical fitness, so this book has been a real eye opener for me in a lot of ways.
Here’s a section that really caught my attention (thus the cause of my aching toes):
How we treat our bodies is a question of stewardship even before it is a question of health, comfort, enjoyment, or pleasure. If we’re truly going to be made holy, useful to the Master, and prepared to do any good work, being more energetic and even being healthier can be essential elements of effectiveness. Many issues of disability and illness are beyond our control; they fall under the providence of God and the genes he has given us. But many issues–how often we exercise, the amount and quality of the calories we take in–are entirely a matter of choice, and these are what we are held accountable for.
The problem with the therapeutic model–eating and exercising to look good and feel better–is that everything is related to self: “I shouldn’t overeat because it will make me less healthy.” “I should exercise because I don’t want to become weak and lose my breath climbing the stairs.” Talking about discipleship brings God back into the picture: “I shouldn’t overeat because God tells me not to, and it dishonors him as Lord when I disobey, and I want to be as strong as possible to serve him as best I can.” (pg. 47, 48)