During a trip to DC last year, we rode the subway several times. At times, the terminals were jam packed, the crowds swarming like a tide in and out of subway cars. One day, we rode to the World War II memorial and looked across the sprawling National Mall towards the Washington Monument. There was a sign of relief leaving the congested, ill-fitting subway to arriving at this wide open space full of majesty and memory. I wonder how differently do you feel in a wide open space verses being closed in tightly?
Often in scripture, the words freedom, liberty, and broad space are used interchangeably. In Galatians 5:1, we read, “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free.” Psalm 119:45 says, “And I will walk at liberty, For I seek Your precepts.”
It is clear Christ desires freedom for us, not captivity. I propose to you today Christ’s desire for us to live in freedom and not captivity extends even to the care and consideration of our physical bodies. It is not his desire for us to be held captive by what the culture has to say about diet and exercise. Instead he desires us to walk in freedom and truth so we may physically flourish for his glory.
I invite you to experience this new found freedom by encouraging you with seven verses from God’s Word:
- Psalm 139:13-14 “You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body…your workmanship is marvelous!” Oftentimes, this verse is associated with infants claiming the awesomeness of God in the little body of a newborn. But, this statement rings just as true for our aging bodies. God knows every crevice, all the ways your body is uniquely yours because he designed it!
- 1 Corinthians 10:31 “So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.” Since our primary purpose is to glorify God and enjoy Him, Paul reminds us the physical care and tending of our bodies is spiritually significant and should ultimately bring glory to God!
- 1 Timothy 4:8 “For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things.” Sadly, our culture has reduced exercise to only having value for achieving a certain number on a scale, in the back of your jeans, or to be acceptably pleasing to the eye. But, God declares physical training is a worthy pursuit connected even to godliness – wouldn’t we much rather pursue godliness than a jean size?
- Ephesians 5:18 “Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit.” Here is a careful warning not to ingest what is unhealthy (cultural perspectives and pressures) because it leads to sin. The ways of the world and its values inevitably lead us away from the heart of God. Instead, Paul encourages us to be filled the Holy Spirit so our thinking is spiritual and not cultural. As followers of Christ, the Holy Spirit helps us to replace the cultural demands of what we should eat and how we should look with the freedom to take good care of our physical bodies for God’s glory.
- Proverbs 16:24 “Pleasant words are a honeycomb, Sweet to the soul and healing to the bones.” This verse wisely declares how our spoken and thought words directly impact our souls and our bodies! Consider for a moment the words you allow to run around in your head, specifically how you describe your body or your physical accomplishments. Are they pleasant, sweet words? Do you speak of your body the way Christ does? If not, confess this and find freedom, help and healing in Christ!
- Proverbs 4:20-22 “My son, pay attention to what I say; turn your ear to my words. Do not let them out of your sight, keep them within your heart; for they are life to those who find them and health to one’s whole body.” Do you see where health to the whole body comes from? The Word of the Lord! Jesus Christ is the Word – he is the source of all health. Filling our minds with the words of any other, our own or someone else’s, distracts from our health.
- Proverbs 3:7-8 “Do not be wise in your own eyes; Fear the Lord and turn away from evil. It will be healing to your body and refreshment to your bones.” The way to physical freedom comes from a healthy fear of the Lord. Allowing the Lord in to our fitness and nutrition brings freedom, healing and refreshment. Doesn’t this sound way more appealing than restrictive diets, the burden of bathing suit shopping, and the need to filter images of ourselves for the acceptance of others?
“Beloved, I pray that all may go well with you and that you may be in good health, as it goes well with your soul.”3 John 1:2
I pray for you to be in good, God-glorifying health and that the physical goodness you experience extends down deep into your soul.
Friends, our bodies are not disconnected from our faith.
Jesus cares deeply about your spiritual walk and he also cares deeply about your physical being.
Don’t let the culture fool you.
Marinate in his words, in his truth – ask him to apply his truth to the tending of your body.
Rejoice in the freedom to take good care of his marvelous work in you!
May it feel as freeing as a stroll through our National Mall on an uncrowded fall day.