As some of you may or may not remember, a couple of months ago, I started a study with a group of about 30 people for two reasons:
- To get stats on the relationship between fitness and sex
- To get together a like minded group of people who were interested in improving their fitness and their sex lives with accountability
Well, Gary Thomas (author of Sacred Marriage, which I still need to review) got wind of this study, and sent me the book Every Body Matters. As with a lot of books, it sat on my desk for about a month… I seem to have a need to be in a particular mood to read a book. Then I read it in about 3 days. Couldn’t put it down. I would have read it in one day…but I have work, and kids, and a blog, etc.. It was amazing. Paradigm shifting, I’d say, with equal effect as Sacred Marriage, but different.
Every Body Matters is sort of a fitness book…except it’s not. It’s really a walk with God book using fitness as a primary example. In short, the question asks: does your commitment to fitness reflect your walk with God? Or rather, it states: your commitment to fitness reflects your walk with God.
Now, that’s a very simplified breakdown of the book, and it needs a lot of caveats which are explained more thoroughly in the book, but the primary caveat is that we cannot judge another person’s commitment to fitness. You may see an obese person who is tirelessly working to be more fit, but has physical or mental maladies that prevent them from progressing. It’s not the progress that’s important, it’s the commitment. Likewise you might see someone who has a body type that is lean, but cares nothing for fitness, because they can eat what they want.
There’s more to it than that of course, but that’s the basic premise of the book: that our walk with God affects our commitment to fitness, and our commitment to fitness affects our walk with God.
Let’s take a look at the chapter list quickly:
- Souls of Silver
- Heads without Bodies
- “Your Strength Will Equal Your Days”
- Healthy Humiliation
- It’s Not a Fair Fight
- Is Being Overweight a Sin?
- Socially Contagious
- The Silent Murderer
- Let’s Get Physical
- Muscular Christianity
- The Three-Hundred-Pound Pastor: Changing the Church Culture
- Stronger Shoulders
- Purely Practical
- Meet My Friend Morty: Our Ongoing Battle against Sin
- The Last Christian
Then there is an Epiloque, Acknowledgements, some Notes, and finally a Discussion Questions and Reflection section.
If you can’t tell yet, I loved this book. In fact, I liked it so much that my wife wants to start a small group based on it. She hasn’t even read the book yet. Just heard me talking about it. This book changed my view of fitness. I mean, we often say, as Christians, that we need to be good stewards of our body, and we believe it’s the temple of God, and things like that…but I think most of us deep down believe that…well…I’m going to get a new body anyways…
But, if your commitment to fitness is a microcosm of your commitment to God…then you might not. What if treating God’s temple reflects the way you treat God? Now, I’m not saying that fitness is a salvation issue…but on the other hand, it’s a relationship issue. And your relationship with God is a salvation issue, isn’t it?
This book has changed my view of fitness. In the past, I’ve always tried to get fit for selfish reasons. Because I want to look better. Because I want to feel better. Because I want to stop being ashamed of my body. And you know what? Turns out that I don’t feel that bad for cheating on myself. I don’t feel that bad for letting myself down. I’m very forgiving of me.
Instead, now I see my commitment to fitness as part of my relationship with God. If I don’t commit to it, it’s the same as not committing to prayer, or to studying scripture. It’s a component of my walk with God. As well, it’s a component of my evangelism, my reflecting God into the world. If I lack a commitment to fitness, it’s as if I’m denying Christ to those around me. After all, how can I say that God is my Lord and Master if I treat his temple like a garbage can? It’s not a consistent message.
On the flip side, I used to get really frustrated when I didn’t see results when I am trying to be fit. If I didn’t drop a pants size, if I didn’t lose weight, if my muscles weren’t more defined. Now, that’s not the primary goal. My primary goal are those muscles you can’t see: perseverance and endurance. As I train my body, I am training my mind. I’m learning to stick with things through the difficult times. I’m learning to continue on, even when I don’t see a direct impact. I’m learning to focus on the relationship, and not on the external results. It’s very freeing.
Gary, if you ever read this: you knocked it out of the park. I’ve been so blessed by you sharing this with me. Thank you for the gift. I truly appreciate it.
For the rest: if you’re struggling with fitness, I highly suggest you pick up this book. You can buy it on Amazon (and generate some income for us) for kindle, paperback, or on audible by clicking here. The kindle edition is only $6 (I love it when the digital copies are cheaper, as they should be).
Also, remember how I said my wife wanted to start a small group? In our church, we typically don’t start small groups over summer; it’s too hard to get people together. But, with the internet being almost ubiquitous, there’s no reason most people can’t participate over a summer break if we had a virtual small group. So, I’m going to test this out. I started a Closed Facebook Group that will be a virtual small group based on going through Every Body Matters. If you want to join, you have to commit to three things:
- Buy the book – Please use our Amazon link if you do, it helps pay for our ministry and it costs you nothing extra.
- Read 2 chapters a week. We’ll run this for 8 weeks as their are 15 chapters. I’m going to start on the 20th, so that gives you almost 2 weeks to buy the book and read two chapters. Should be plenty, I think.
- Participate in the Facebook Group. I don’t want lurkers. I want engaged people. It’s a closed group, no one outside will see what you write. You don’t have to answer every question, but I want you to participate, because I believe if will help you more.
So, if you can commit to that, and you want a group to help you renew your commitment to fitness, then join up. I hope to see many of you there.