Sunday, February 6, 2011

Fitness Minded: A Detriment?

An explosion of endurance athletes is occurring before the West’s physical fitness crazed eyes. Seemingly, this would a sign of progress in this fast-food nation we live in, but a recent article in the Wall Street Journal shows how this movement can be one in the wrong direction. It focuses on how a man’s highly driven athletic goals have nearly destroyed his marriage and family life.
As seen in the article, secular psychology sees the problem with this overemphasis of the physical even while being inclined to focus solely on the material man. Secular psychologists notice that when people are too concerned about the way they look, there is negative consequences to their overall being, but they can not explain the reason for this as well as Christians because they can not separate the material and immaterial man in their secular framework. In 2 Corinthians 5:1-5 Paul refers to the material part of man as a tent that can be exited without eliminating our existence, therefore implying the reality of the immaterial man. In this tent analogy Paul does not only show us the immaterial and material nature of man, but that the immaterial man is the most important of the two parts because it is the part of man that persist and will not perish.
As a marathon runner, I know the temptation of finding my significance in my physical fitness and placing it higher than the immaterial part of myself that will persevere all too well. However, with the spectacles that Paul gives us, we can see that there is a real problem with anyone who overemphasizes the tent with detriment to the occupant the tent is designed to help. Focusing on the tent is good only when it is seen second in priority to the occupant living inside. Fitness goals, and any improvements on the material part of man, are very good until they negatively influence a person’s immaterial man. If this happens, these “improvements” and goals are extremely harmful. This is why Paul tells Timothy in 1 Timothy 4:7 that “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.”

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