Observe the Olympic athlete and you will see precision, determination and dedication. They have a protocol that requires them to be wholly devoted to the task at hand. They cannot be on the fence, half in, or impartial. They must be completely sold out, giving themselves entirely to their sport.
It is easy to look at those athletes and see that their level of fitness is above and beyond the norm. They are amazing specimens. Magazines marvel at their abilities, sports commentators tick through the list of their accomplishments and awards. Viewers become entranced by these ordinary men and women with extraordinary abilities such as Michael Phelps or Gabby Douglas. These people, who on so many levels look just like us, have given up so much to accomplish great things. They have risen to the top of the pack, beat out competition and overcome unbelievable odds. They go through grueling training and years of tireless work to make it to the world's stage.
Our culture takes their appreciation for these accomplishments and elevates them to heroin status. Olympians are not just exemplary physical fitness marvels, they are stars. Fans turn out in droves with signs, t-shirts and screams of "marry me, (fill in the blank)". Our society has made these individuals into rock stars. Why? Because, to the common man, their skills are the stories of super humans. They run faster then the speed of light; bend their bodies in ways that look incomprehensible; swim a lap so fast that you swear they had gills.
We put so much value on this kind of accomplishment. These are the things our world strives for. We want to be the best at something that can be calculated and measured. How fast can they swim a lap? Who is the fastest sprinter in the 100 meter dash? Whoever takes the Gold is the hero, the name on the lips of men who are glued to ESPN and women who haven't followed a sport, other then shoe hunting, in their entire life. The winner becomes the flavor of the week or the day - good luck making it to a month.
It is a shame that our culture has become so obsessed with physical accomplishments that it has neglected what is most valuable: spiritual fitness.
The Bible makes it abundantly clear that our primary focus in life is to be on our relationship with God and how we order our lives in accordance to his will and Word. Yes, physical fitness and worldly accomplishments can be a blessing and can have value but that value pales in comparison to our spiritual health and wellness.
There are a number of scriptures that clarify this point and are wonderful tools to guide Christians in setting their priorities in accordance with God's design. Here are a few...
Hebrews 12:1 "Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us."
1 Timothy 4:7-8 "Take time and trouble to keep yourself spiritually fit. Bodily fitness has limited value, but spiritual fitness is of unlimited value, for it holds promise both for this present life and for the life to come."
1 Thessalonians 4:4-8 "Every one of you should learn to control his body, keeping it pure and treating it with respect, and never allowing it to fall victim to lust, as do pagans with no knowledge of God. You cannot break this rule without cheating and exploiting your fellow-man. God will punish all who do offend in this matter, as we have plainly told you and warned you. The calling of God is not to impurity but to the most thorough purity, and anyone who makes light of the matter is not making light of a man's ruling but of God's command. It is not for nothing that the Spirit God gives us is called the 'Holy' Spirit."
The Bible doesn't leave our physical fitness as a gray area, letting us determine its importance, nor does it neglect to address the abundant importance of our spiritual fitness. Both are vitally important but not to be confused. Spiritual fitness is to be our utmost priority, the primary focus of our lives. Our discipline and devotion is to our spiritual fitness. Physical fitness can only be part of our lives in a healthy, God-honoring way if we have the spiritual fitness in its rightful place first and foremost.
The question to ask yourself today is how is my spiritual fitness? Am I sold out for God above all else? Is my devotion sold out to living obediently and whole heartedly for the Lord? Don't allow the allure of physical fitness or worldly accomplishments steal your devotion or divert your primary focus away from the Lord. Fitness that is rooted in this world will last for a time, but spiritual fitness will last for eternity.