I am not a huge fan of going to the gym. I know exercise is good for me, but so is eating vegetables, and I’m not really into that either. At the end of a work day, even though I know a trip to the gym will be good for me, it’s just so much easier to sit down with some Cheetos and watch Netflix.
So I wonder: Where is God at the gym? Where is God in my eating habits? I often teach the children at church that God is everywhere, and if they run into problems at school, God is there. The same logic must apply here. God is at the gym. God is in my meal preparations. God is in my sleep patterns and the vitamins I take, and in my confidence and self-esteem.
All of these health topics are body related. So what is my relationship with my body? Do I see it as ugly and huge and fat and useless? Do I place any value on it whatsoever? Do I see my body the way God sees it: as fearfully and wonderfully made?
This has led me to think about a theology of the body, which is: Honour God with your body. This applies to any and all stages of life. It applies to how you eat, your body image, whether you drive or walk, if you get to the gym, if you play recreational sports, or if you express love through a hug or a handshake. And if you’re married, it applies to your physical relationship with your spouse. Honouring God with your body applies to every single follower of Christ.
This makes my gym attendance much harder to put on the back burner. Just as we honour God by giving back a portion of what he’s given to us, or by volunteering to help the most vulnerable, so we honour God by taking care of the body he’s given us.
This means that I need to take some time to figure out what’s going to work for me, as I seek to best honour God. At one point, I was working out three times a week, but it faded. Once I started running in the summer, I realized that I enjoy cardio much more than strength training, and while a combination of both is best, the only way I’m going to stick to doing something I already don’t enjoy is to start with the exercise I enjoy the most.
I can go and be on the elliptical for half an hour, and since the gym has cable and I don’t, I get to sit and watch the Food Network for 30 minutes. What is the downside to that?
There may be more obstacles for you. You may have children and your gym doesn’t have childcare. Maybe you can’t afford a gym membership. I don’t know your unique circumstances, but I can tell you that I got in a mini-work-out at Junior Youth this week playing basketball with the kids. I am much taller than them, so it was hilariously easy to score a basket, but those kids can sure run! What they lack in height, they make up for in speed.
This is how easy it can be: honouring God with your body by playing half court with some 12-year-olds. This one’s a double whammy too, because you can honour God with physical movement and form relationships in the church!
So use your creativity! Honour God with your body the best way you can, and he’ll walk with you every step of the journey.
Amanda Zehr, 27, is the associate pastor at Listowel Mennonite Church, Ont.