“After we’re done here, we’re gonna hold a little Bible Study.”
The man talking is Kelsey. He’s a good friend, a firefighter, and, at the moment, a personal trainer at my new gym. He’s also, apparently, a Bible study leader.
I haven’t been a member at the gym for an hour yet. I’m standing with about two dozen other members, all of us just finished with a morning workout. We’re heaving. Our hands rest on our shaky knees. Our excess clothing has been cast into sweaty piles around the gym. And our trainer is asking us to partake in a Bible study. I wouldn’t have been more surprised if he’d asked us to do a jig.
I’m skeptical, and I try to figure out why. I’m a Christian, after all. I go to Bible studies. I just don’t usually mix them with exercise.
“Nobody has to come,” Kelsey continues. “But we make it available for everyone. Our faith is an important part of why we do this.”
Loving God With All Your Strength
In Luke 6, a teacher asks Jesus what must be done to inherit eternal life. Jesus responds with a question: “What is written in the Law?” The teacher quotes from Deuteronomy: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind.” Jesus affirms his answer. It’s all a lead-in to the parable of the Prodigal Son, but it’s pretty interesting on its own.
We focus on loving God with all our heart and soul, and that’s probably for the best. “Heart” and “soul” can be loosely translated as “desire” and “life,” so they’re no small part of us. It’s not a coincidence that they’re first on the list. And loving God with all our mind may not make it into as many of our worship choruses, but most of us recognize the importance of learning more about Him.
But for many of us, loving God with all our strength isn’t really part of our faith at all.
It’s not a new problem. Ancient Gnostic Christians were a large and influential branch of the early Church who believed that the physical world was a lower, less perfect creation than the high, pure spiritual world. They saw the physical body as inherently bad and, more importantly, inherently separate from the spiritual world. In fact, many Gnostic Christians could not reconcile the idea of Jesus being fully God and fully man because they believed the supreme spiritual Being could not take on a physical identity without defiling His holiness.
That theology was pretty much debunked by the end of the first century, but its practical implications have been part of the Church ever since. The puritanical skittishness about sex. The monastic self-flagellation. Evangelical bans on dancing. Historically, the Church has largely seen the body and its senses as an obstacle to worship or else ignored the body altogether.
It’s not an attitude found in the Bible.
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SOURCE: Relevant Magazine