“We have one body, and if we would like to successfully fulfill the call of God on our lives, then we need to maintain our temples,” said Dawniqua Linyear, a Christian fitness trainer and figure competitor.  The conversation was over and she had proved her point.  I, a one time professional athlete, was officially out of shape and out of God’s will for my life. I started to think how I got this way.  At one time, I bench pressed over four hundred pounds; ran a forty yard dash in 4.3 seconds; and had less than 3% body fat.  Now, as I look in the mirror, I don’t see that man anymore. More of her words started to play in my mind. “You are an athlete. Why are you so out of shape?” I know she was joking, but there is always a bit of truth in humor.

For various reasons, I did not see being in shape as a part of my Kingdom Calling. I guess I never considered the spirituality of our bodies. I felt keeping the temple “holy” was all that was required of me – since I have never heard a preacher even broach the topic of gluttony. I deduced that the reason I worked so hard to keep myself in shape in the past was a result of my desire to perform on the football field and I suppose because I stopped playing, I lost the motivation to stay in shape.  I am not saying it’s right, it’s just what happened.  Alright, time to confess, I have been out of football ten years now, and currently am the youth pastor of a large urban church in the Hampton Roads, VA area. When I am asked to minister to youth across the country, the one calling card that opens more doors for me than my education or anointing is the fact that I played professional football. As a result, I am always asked to partake in some athletic event to engage students. However, since I am not in shape, I know if I were to attempt to participate in any athletic activity, I would not only be embarrassed, but would probably get hurt as well.

Yet, I can vividly remember being in Bosnia and Herzegovina, which is located in Eastern Europe, at the Emek Beraka camps ministering to Muslims and being asked to help run some basic athletic activities and having to pull out because I was not in any shape to help out.  At the time, I thought it was a funny way of getting out of the physical labor, but now I feel convicted and certain that I missed a myriad of opportunities to reach souls for Christ.  Additionally, in the fall of 2009, I was a part of a mission’s team that went to Haiti to speak at a leadership conference, distribute goods at a medical clinic, and preach the gospel at several churches. I preached 7 sermons in two days and was dead tired. My fatigue was not only a result of the volume of sermons preached but it was because the temperature in Haiti was very high. I remember feeling as though I could not go on, but after hearing Ms. Linyear’s words I realized I had not been a good steward of my temple.

Ms. Linyear’s voice rings in my mind, “People fail to minister in areas that they refuse to practice. It’s easy to talk about spiritual maturity and growth in Christ, which takes a certain level of discipline, but the truth is, God has already provided the blood, sweat, and tears in this area; we just need to walk in it. Living a healthy and balanced lifestyle is a challenge physically, mentally emotionally, and spiritually, and it takes extreme levels of discipline, along with some sweat and tears of our own.” I realized she was saying that being in shape is an act of worship! Why had I not seen it before?

Being in shape is the responsibility of every believer.  Remember the words of Christ, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’ (Matthew 25:23). When it comes to being physically fit, most believers reference 1 Timothy 4:8 and use it as a way of devaluing exercise:  “For bodily exercise profiteth little: but godliness is profitable unto all things, having promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come.” What the NASB and KJV translates as “profiteth little” in Greek is “ which is translated “for a short time”. The text is not saying that exercise has lesser value in contrast to spiritual exercise but rather communicates both practices are beneficial. The former practice will only last as long as we have these mortal bodies, and the latter practice will be beneficial throughout all eternity. We must understand that our bodies are extremely valuable to us while in our possession. If we would like to successfully fulfill the call of God on our lives, then we need to maintain our temples!