A Christian Guide to Body Stewardship, Diet and Exercise

Chapter 1: Biblical Foundations: Human Body, Fitness and Care 12 contribute to our health and happiness, and all of this is meant ultimately to draw our attention and affections back to God himself. Community. The Christian life is a life that is lived together, committing ourselves to other Christians, particularly in the context of the local church. We are called to exhort one another everyday so that we are not hardened by the deceitfulness of sin (Heb. 3:12-13) and to spur one another on to love and good works (Heb. 10:24-25). Certainly, this can and should be done on a Sunday morning as we gather for worship as a local church, but it needs to happen throughout the week if we are to grow and endure faithfully. There are many venues where this could happen, including exercising within that community of people. Exercise is an excellent opportunity to take some extended time to talk about the latest sermon you heard, review what you have been reading in Scripture, discuss theological questions and concepts, testify to God’s hand of providence in your life, find accountability for issues of temptation, and provide ways you can pray for one another. This is a great way to redeem the time (Eph. 5:15-16) by exerting your body and encouraging one another in living as disciples of Jesus. Evangelistic opportunity. Faithful Christians have a mindset of constantly sharing the good news about Jesus (1 Pet. 3:15), and the settings of physical activity provide unique opportunities for evangelism on account of the shared interest and pursuit. In 1 Corinthians 9, Paul describes the lengths that he is willing to go to share the gospel with people. He adapts personal practices “for the sake of the gospel, that I may share with them in its blessings” (1 Cor. 9:23). Christians and non-Christians alike recognize the benefits of physical exercise, even while Christians understand this as a common grace from God. In this way, a gym parallels a book club, in that both settings provide a context in which Christians can leverage their shared interest with a non-believer to share the gospel message. There is not something inherently effective about exercise-evangelism, but it provides a context for Christians to interact with nonChristians, form relationships, and share the gospel. Likewise, shared pursuits, such as team sports, can provide feelings of camaraderie that make a person more likely to listen to the gospel message. Every context is for evangelism, including those that involve bodily exercise. Bodily Discipline. As described above, God created and then redeemed embodied souls to worship with their bodies. The implication is that I “belong—body and soul, in life and death—to my faithful Savior Jesus Christ” (Heidelberg Catechism Question 1; Rom. 14:7–9; 1 Cor. 6:19–20). Sanctification is lived out in the body through self-control, not asceticism. This means that Christians should enjoy physical joys while recognizing that any legitimate joy ought to point us to the ultimate joy experienced in relationship with God. The Bible assumes that bodily discipline is part of sanctification (e.g., 1 Cor. 9:27; the spiritual