The new year ushers in new resolutions and fitness historically lands at the top of new year’s resolution goals for most people. I’ve been a part of the fitness industry for nearly eight years off and on. Each January fitness facilities are flooded with new members and new participants in group fitness classes (where you would have found me teaching classes).
I assume part of the reason is we’ve just spent two months eating enormous amounts of food celebrating Thanksgiving and Christmas. The other reason is each year seems like a time to start anew.
I’m not opposed to that goal. Caring for our bodies can be a way to honor God. God created us not to lay waste to our bodies through abusing them but so we might use them for His glory and His purposes. And though godliness is of supreme value, we know that physical training is of some value to the Lord. Paul helps us see the false dichotomy when he writes, “For 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 Timothy 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, it can be restorative, and it can be 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 of mankind brought significant damage to the entire world. Not only did it bring sin into the world, cursing even our good deeds, it brought disease and death. The moment we are born our bodies begin the process of deteriorating. We develop and grow and fall apart. Even at 34-years-old, though for many I would be considered young, I cannot jump as high or run as fast as I once did. And I find myself aching in places I never did before.
God informs Adam that as part of the punishment for his sin humanity would “return to the ground” (Genesis 3:19). The very ground he was created from, once pure and undefiled, he will return to as dust.
Our bodies droop and change and grow tired. We try every experimental drug and various forms of exercise to prolong or prevent the inevitable. Botox and plastic surgery and a lifetime of marathons cannot prevent our inevitable fate. Like Adam, we are dust, and will return to the dust (Genesis 3:19).
No amount of exercise that can stop it.
Resurrected Bodies and the Beauty of Christ
While there is nothing on this earth to be desired for all eternity, in God’s kindness 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, “For 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 Corinthians 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 with him and like him, “But 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” (Philippians 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 — yes, 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 and 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.