Exercise and the Eternal Story

The new year ushers in new resolutions, and fitness tends to land at the top of most people’s goals. I’ve been a part of the fitness industry for nearly eight years off and on, and each January I’ve seen new participants flood my group fitness classes.

Some Value

Caring for our bodies can be a way to honor God. God didn’t intend for us to abuse our bodies but to use them for His glory and purposes. And though godliness is of supreme value, we know that physical training is of some value to the Lord:

While bodily training is 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 Tim. 4:8)

So we can assume that it is okay to pursue exercise as a goal for healthy living and most importantly for godly living. Exercise provides strength for service, and it can be restorative and rejuvenating.

But the fact that there is a need for exercise at all is another reminder that we live in a fallen world with fallen bodies. If the beginning of the new year is a reminder that we need to exercise, it is even more a reminder that we need God.

The Fall

The fall of mankind wrought significant damage to the entire world. Not only did sin enter the world, marring even our good deeds; the fall also brought disease and death.

Now, the moment we’re born, our bodies begin the process of deteriorating. We develop and grow and fall apart. Even at just thirty-four years old, I can’t jump as high or run as fast as I once did, and I find myself aching in places I never did before.

God informed Adam that as part of the punishment for his sin humanity would “return to the ground” (Gen. 3:19). And so our bodies will droop and change and grow tired. We try to prevent the inevitable with experimental drugs and various forms of exercise; but Botox, plastic surgery, and a lifetime of marathons can’t prevent our inevitable fate. Like Adam, we are dust, and will return to the dust (Gen. 3:19). No amount of exercise can stop that.

Resurrected Bodies and the Beauty of Christ

In God’s kindness, though, He doesn’t leave us alone in our disintegration. We know that in time He will make all things new, and what was once wrought with disease and pain will rise into glory with Christ. Paul connects the fall and our resurrection for us when he writes:

As in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive. But each in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, then at his coming those who belong to Christ. (1 Cor. 15:22–23)

If that weren’t good news enough, Paul reminds us that not only will we be with Christ, but that we will be like him:

Our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself. (Phil. 3:20–21)

Yes! God will make it new. He will transform our bodies, the ones we are pulling and tucking and starving and beating to try to make beautiful. He will make our bodies beautiful, pure, and glorious when He returns. Our bodies will never die again. And most importantly, we will be without sin.

Anything But Worship

As this new year begins, our fallen and imperfect bodies are yet another way we can look to Christ. By His grace, we can take our eyes off of ourselves and fix them squarely on Jesus.

Our bodies are made for worship, and if the Lord has us live long enough, we may be left with bodies that are unable to do anything but worship. Each ache and pain and droopy muscle that was once firm is another reminder that we have a Savior who is perfect in beauty. He is coming to get us, to return us to our pre-fall state, and to raise us to a condition more glorious than we can imagine.

How did this post encourage you? How do you think remembering your exciting future can change the way you approach and pursue fitness?

Adapted from Trillia’s post, “Fitness Goals and the New Year” on DesiringGod.org.  

 

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About the Author

Trillia Newbell

Trillia Newbell

Trillia Newbell is the author of several books, including If God Is For Us, Fear and Faith, and the kids’ book God’s Very Good Idea. She is married to her best friend, Thern, and they live with their two children near Nashville, Tennessee. Learn more about her at trillianewbell.com.