The point of this scripture is plain: spiritual training for godliness is more important than training the body. Perhaps a few couch potatoes have jokingly given themselves an exercise pass using this scripture, but we all know that taking care of our physical “temples” is also very important for longevity, high productivity, and more enjoyment of life. Physical training is good.
This is not just a 21st Century phenomenon. The culture that Paul lived in was Greek—as in, the originators of the Olympics. Their statues reflect their love of a muscular physique! Perhaps this is why Paul, the first pastor to understand the need to be “relevant,” often used exercise terminology:
- “Run with patience the race set before us…” (Hebrews 12:1-3)
- “I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith. Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness …” (2 Thess. 4:7, 8). Notice that nod to the Olympic “crown”?
- “Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize.” (1 Corinthians 9:24)
Emphasis on physical fitness is even more widespread today. Wouldn’t it be great if the world associated Christianity with total fitness—both spiritual and physical? This may increasingly be what it takes to attract the fitness-focused world. If the idea of fitness as an outreach theme is new to you, we’ve got two ideas for you:
5K and other runs
5K runs are extremely popular right now. The 3.1 mile sprint is a great starting place for the physically UNfit. Young people run short, themed runs as social events—a way to do something crazy with their friends and work on their fitness at the same time (they love mud runs and color runs). Every age is drawn to runs that benefit causes they care about, making a 5K a potential fund-raiser along with outreach. Running events are not simple to host and can take months to plan, so be sure to allow at least 6 months before your first one. Download our 5k How-to Guide for Churches: How to host a 5K for Fundraising, Fitness or Outreach here.
Jay and Lyn Johnson, creators of Jay Johnson’s Boot Camp Fitness, are best known for their work with the Dallas Cowboy Cheerleaders. They are Christians who want to help Christ-followers embody health. Currently, they offer short term, onsite Bootcamp sessions for churches and corporations. They will soon be launching an aggressive program for churches wherein small groups are formed based on fitness goals. It includes a curriculum for godliness training alongside the physical training, starting with the important topic of identity: who’s are you? Fitness-as-outreach aligns with the lifestyles and values of much of our culture. Attracting a physically fit segment—or creating one from within—can mean introducing new levels of energy into your church. Remember, “physical training is good…!”