The Race that Wasn’t

If you live in America you have probably heard of the fiasco that was the Chicago Marathon.  My wife and I had been training for months and went expecting to complete the race in 4hrs 30mins or so.  We decided to slow it down a little because of the heat and when we arrived at the first water station we were somewhat surprised to find no water there.

We were redirected at about mile 17 and were not allowed to finish the race.

So why are we not as disappointed as we might have been?  My wife and I trained for the race because of our theology.  The theology was that our bodies are temples that the Holy Spirit dwells in.  To keep things looking nice and well maintained we decided to run.  I hate running and so we needed some regular kind of discipline to keep us on the tread-mill.  Entering for half-marathons seemed to be the way to go.  We completed the St. Louis, Madison, and Chicago half marathons and then decided that it was time to enter the St. Louis and Chicago Marathons.  It seemed right.  We thought that it would be good to achieve something that required that much self-control.  We did the St Louis marathon in 4:30 and then we trained over the summer for the Chicago marathon.

The reason we are not disappointed is because of why we trained.  Keeping fit and healthy is an act of worship for the rounded Christian.  We kept fit and healthy.

I have heard that running marathons goes too far.  That running marathons is detrimental to our health.  What do you think?  Should a church that is so anti-drugs, alcohol, and cigarettes be for regular exercise and workouts?  Isn’t allowing the temple to get fat equivalent with filling it with smoke?  What are the legalistic dangers of working out as an act of worship?  What are the potential benefits?

About Plymothian

I teach at Moody Bible Institute in Chicago. My interests include education, biblical studies, and spiritual formation. I have been married to Kelli since 1998 and we have two children, Daryl and Amelia. For recreation I like to run, play soccer, play board games, read and travel.
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9 Responses to The Race that Wasn’t

  1. hrlmercygirl says:

    Congrats on your training! I had no idea you two were running! And 17 miles is still quite an accomplishment.I believe that exercising and working out is a good thing for the obvious health benefits. However, just like any other “good thing” it needs to be done in moderation… we can become so obsessed with keeping our “temples” beautiful that we forget the entire reason for the “temple” in the first place, and we begin to worship the temple itself rather than worship IN the temple. Case and point: eating disorders, exercise addictions, and even health food addictions. I have often been tempted to run the marathon, but I know that, for myself, it would not be a wise idea, because I am prone to become addicted to such things. So although I do exercise regularly, I try to keep my runs under 8 miles. 🙂 How far is too far? I think that each individual must decide that depending on his or her own temptations and tendencies, and also must keep his or her motivations in mind.

  2. rookie1987 says:

    To much of a good thing is a bad thing. None of a good thing is a bad thing. The balance will be different depending on a person. I think need to take care of our bodies. Add onto this good sleeping habits, healthy ways of dealing with stress etc.
    Salt and Light

  3. i agree with what silver said.  What is too much for some because of addictive tendencies would not be too much for another (perhaps such as yourself who does not like running:).  As far as “allowing the temple to get fat” another discussion could be started.  Gluttony is something the church has hugely overlooked throughout the years.  While some can eat like a glutton and never “get fat” others have a difficult time keeping the weight down even when they do eat healthy and exercise.  I didn’t really answer any of your questions, but I’ve been thinking about these things lately. Good job at getting to mile 17!

  4. Anonymous says:

    sorry to go backwards a bit, but I wanted to reference back to the Art and spirituality.I’ve been reading L’Engle’s Walking on Water, her reflections on faith and art. She describes “Christian” art as anything that takes the chaos of a sinful world and transforms it into cosmos. I was struck by this because of how often “secular” art meets this same standard, and how sometimes “christian” art doesn’t.So, back to that original idea, is art simply order, or can/must there be more qualifiers?

  5. and_up_we_go says:

    Working out not only has physical benefits but, as you stated, also encourages discipline and self control. Virtues much lacking in our world today- Christians included. If exercise helps generate self control then there’s no reason why not to apply that self control to the exercise itself, when necessary. This should also help us apply it to other areas of our lives- eating, video games, sleep, homework, etc.

  6. Interestingly, the legend states that the first man who ever ran the marathon (Pheidippides) died. That is not to say that none of us can run a marathon. However, it is to say that not all of us (such as Pheidippides) should. A lot of this has to do with the ability to know one’s limitations. Everything, including our bodies, has been effected by the fall of man. There are people who will never be able to run a marathon for the whole of their lives. That being said, even though some of us are not marathon runners, that does not mean we just neglect exercising our bodies. Jesus said that the greatest commandment was to love the Lord our God with all our heart, soul, mind, and STRENGTH. Our bodies are instruments for loving God. When we don’t use it for His glory, then we aren’t completely obeying that great commandment. Churches should encourage the discipline of exercise for this reason. However this needs to be done with proper discernment regarding how far we take this. How far is too far? I would say that there are two indications: 1) When we reach the physical limitations discussed above, and our exercise becomes bad for us rather than good. 2) When our motives reach beyond loving God with our bodies. As others have stated in their comments, some can become obsessed with their own outer appearance. Our society has painted some faulty pictures of what everyone should look like. This provides a breeding ground for all sorts of other exercise motives. Obsession with one’s appearance is rooted in pride and not directed towards loving and honoring their Creator. If a church was to encourage exercise, it MUST be all about God.
    Ben Meils

  7. Thank you for the encouragement above.

  8. Our bodies are a temple of the Holy Spirit, and we have to take care of them. . . .people within the church (most) are against drugs, alcohol . .when i was 10 i asked my mom why this is so. . .she said its bad for our bodies and our bodies are a temple of the holy spirit.. . .but the thing if this is the only reason then why do we eat junk food?

      Junk food is not only addicting, bad for you, and makes you fat, but plays with my (don know bout you)emotions.
    So. . . .did God intend for Christians to be all fat. . .if so, then the french veiw of Americans is almost exact. (lil sarcasm)
    But i do think we should take care of our bodies..not to overly worship our bodies, but also not to neglect our bodies and treat them badly…… . . .

  9. alexgoreham says:

    Yes, its our job to keep our bodies in good shape because our bodies are not our own. There are so many ways that I do not keep my temple in good condition. I feel like i would have to go and live in a under a rock to really keep my temple clean. BUT,that not possible, so i have to do my best. Its important that what enters our minds can also be bad for our temple. I don’t know if saying that smoking is the same as eating a burger everyday. But I understanding where you are getting at. ALEX GOREHAM

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