Working out as Worship (What’s Different, Part 4 of 5)

Since my last blog I hit another weight milestone…. Since February, 2015, I have lost 60 lbs! This has been extremely exciting and has motivated me to get serious about getting the rest of my weight goal taken care of.. I’m hoping before Christmas.

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The photo on the left was from Mid March. I was around 290 lbs. at this time (and had already lost about 10 lbs.).. The photo the right was from September 16.. 239 lbs!

Today I want to continue my blog series.. What’s Different?? In the last few years I have tried to lose weight numerous times but have dropped the ball miserably. This time I have found a lot of success and a lot of people have been asking me what I’ve been doing, so I wanted to keep this blog to help others who may be on a similar journey.

So What’s Different? Today I want to talk about seeing exercise and proper eating as acts of worship. Kirsten (my wife) is always quick to remind me that ‘it’s not just about losing weight,’ and this is totally true. Taking care of our bodies is an act of worship.

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I appeal to you therefore, brothers and sisters, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Romans 12:1

While this verse means a lot of different things, I want to briefly touch on the literal interpretation of the verse. By honouring God with our bodies, we are partaking in a worshipful act. One of the days when I did not want to go to the gym, I was walking down the river valley towards Kinsmen (right by where I took the above photo) and I intentionally decided to put some worship music on through my headphones. At this moment I had a profound encounter with the Lord and He spoke to me about how proud He was that I was choosing to worship Him with my body… The songs that I was listening to that spoke of the goodness of God were confirming the response of worship that I was choosing to partake in – the present my body as a living sacrifice to God! Emotionally, I kept going towards the gym and this was the day that I realized that this journey was about so much more than just getting the weight off, it was about honouring God with my body.

19 Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, which you have from God, and that you are not your own? 20 For you were bought with a price; therefore glorify God in your body. 1 Corinthians 6:19-20

Another verse that really exemplifies this is found in 1 Corinthians. This passage talks about the fact that our bodies are not simply our own, our bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit. One of the most profound sermons that I have ever heard has to do with this topic (by Allan Hood, the link to it on YouTube is below). Allan talks about the magnitude of this, that the living God choosing to inhabit human bodies means that our bodies are of utmost importance. One of the primary ways that we receive and accept the gift of salvation and being filled with the Spirit is by honouring God with our bodies. This is extremely profound!

24 Do you not know that in a race the runners all compete, but only one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may win it. 25 Athletes exercise self-control in all things; they do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable one. 26 So I do not run aimlessly, nor do I box as though beating the air; 27 but I punish my body and enslave it, so that after proclaiming to others I myself should not be disqualified. 1 Corinthians 9:24-27

Working out is an act of worship to God. Choosing to make healthy eating choices is an act of worship to God. Does this mean that we need to be extreme in either of those… no! The most important thing in all of this is to keep our eyes fixed on Jesus and be pursuing Him with everything we are. How we treat our bodies is such an important element of our pursuit of God. I can honestly say that since I have lost this weight, I have felt better (generally), my self-image has improved drastically (which has impacted my ability to receive and believe what God says about me), my comfort level in groups has improved (I feel that I can be more myself, as God has created me to be), my confidence in my gifts has improved (I believe that I have been walking in greater levels of anointing and being able to hear God’s voice).. I am not saying this to brag, I am saying this to show the example that when we take seriously giving our bodies to God as an act of worship – things change!

One way of looking at this has been that, over the past six months, the outward sign of weight loss for me has been a reflection of what God has been doing on the inside.. but I think it’s more complex than that. I think that the weight loss has enabled and deepened some of the spiritual changes that have been happening. As I’ve sought to steward my body more effectively.. as I have made this about worship rather than about duty… everything has changed!

Lord, I pray for those reading this, and for myself… that we would see stewardship of our bodies as an act of worship before You. That You would help us to take care of our bodies and not just see healthy choices as a means to an end like weight loss, rather we would see healthy choices as a means to end in meeting You and growing in our identity as Your sons and daughters. I pray that You would give us the strength to take up our crosses daily – in surrender to You, to say no to that which will keep us in unhealth and low self image, and to say yes to that which will give propel us towards You and a deeper relationship with You. 

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