Instagram models. Sports bras. Yoga pants. The gym seems saturated with it. In fact, you’re the only person wearing a tshirt for miles around.It’s not surprising that many women are asking whether fitness has any place in God’s plan, when all anyone ever seems to do in the gym is look at themselves in the mirror.
Like all the good things that God has created, sometimes, humans use them for the wrong reasons. This is more true for health and fitness than it’s ever been, so today, you’re going to find out why fitness has a place in your Christian life, and why you should embrace it. And boy, let me tell you, I know how you’re feeling.
I decided a while ago that I wanted to train to become a competitive athlete, but I was concerned for such a long time that it wasn’t ‘Christian’. I worried that I was going to do it for the wrong reasons, that it was going to become self-serving. To be honest, the worry in itself should have shown me that my heart posture was already rightly placed. I wanted to compete in sports to inspire other women, and to show them just how resilient God has designed our bodies to be. But I was so wrapped up in thinking that at some level I might be doing it for the approval of others, that I almost gave up on the idea altogether. But I didn’t, and you shouldn’t either.
So whether you want to be a bikini model competitor, professional Crossfitter, or just somebody who’s passionate about inspiring women to take steps towards a healthy lifestyle, you’ll want to read on and find out why God calls us into the fitness industry.
"So whether you eat or drink orwhatever you do, do it all for the glory of God."
—1 Corinthians 10:31
Fitness can help grow our relationship with God. Those gruelling workouts that feel the toughest are when I feel closest to God. God uses fitness to grow characteristics in us that he wants us to use. Mental toughness, persistence, resistance; struggling through workouts helps us to grow so that we are better equipped with life.
Do you ever get through a really tough run or workout and think at the end of it, ‘I’m glad I showed up for that’? Even though you hated every minute of it, the reward was better than you could’ve ever expected or imagined. We are taught through the practice of exercise that on the other end of the struggle, there is greatness lying in wait. And even through the midst of a hard workout, having faith in a God that is good reassures us that He is carrying us. We can appreciate that Jesus Christ knows how we’re feeling, because He took the burden of tremendous torture onto Himself so that we don’t have to.
Fitness gives us a whole new perspective of God’s grace and grows our relationship with Him. Fitness can be used by God to serve His purpose.
All good things from God can be twisted to elevate the self, it’s just something that we’re very good at doing as humans. Unfortunately, that has appeared in the fitness industry, with men and women alike placing importance of their body image over everything else, and basing all of their happiness on whether they ‘look good’. This is a form of idolatry, and God calls us to avoid falling into these traps. This isn’t because God wants to take away all the fun, but because idolatry, especially self-idolatry, transforms us into people who are hurting.
Being obsessed with the way your body looks and placing all of your happiness on it will ultimately end in misery. You’ll be stressed on the days that you’re bloated, you’ll snap at people who don’t understand the diet plan you’re following, and you’ll constantly compare yourself to others. This is not a happy way to live. More importantly, it’s not how God wants us to live.
But fitness doesn’t have to be like this. We just have to change the dynamic. Having God in the forefront of your mind when it comes to health and fitness allows you to make decisions for the good of the kingdom. You want to be a fitness professional? That’s amazing, because God has given you the skills to inspire and help other people to become their healthiest self. You want to be a competitive athlete? Using the gifts that God has given you in fitness allows you to demonstrate how resilient God has made our bodies. It allows you to show others that they can achieve similar things because God has given of all us different gifts and designed us to be able to withstand enormous pressure.
Instead of wanting to achieve these things because you want to stand on a podium and hear everyone chant your name, change the dynamic. Achieve these things so that you can be the one chanting God’s name because of what he has done through you.
"For while bodily trainingis of some value, godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come."
—1 Timothy 4:8
As Paul says, health and fitness are important, but making sure your relationship with God is strong is most important. Using fitness as a tool to show God’s goodness and how He wants to help us and rescue us is a desire that He put in you in the first place, so don’t be afraid to use it!