Article May 24, 2017

Exercise for hunger: Join us at the GHR run

On Wednesday, June 14, the high in Phoenix, Ariz., is estimated to be around 101 degrees. I’m told the scorching temperatures won’t actually feel quite as hot as 101 might sound because it’s a “dry heat.” It’s seems logical, then, to lace up our shoes and hit the pavement for a run on such a day—especially when it’s for Global Hunger Relief.

A broad coalition of Southern Baptist ministries have partnered together to sponsor a Global Hunger Relief Run, including a 5k and one-mile Fun Run, in Phoenix on June 14, in conjunction with the Southern Baptist Convention annual meeting. All funds raised through participant fees will go directly to feed hungry people around the world.  

You don’t need to be a world-class athlete to participate in this fun run for a great cause. That’s good news; anyone can join us! But it is worth remembering that the Lord does have something to say about our bodies, specifically in the area of exercise.

Some value

For some of you, exercise and caring for your body is an idol you wrestle with daily. You’re overly concerned with your physique. For others, the very idea of caring for your body seems to be of little to no value at all. I’d like to convince you to meet in the middle. Caring for our bodies can be a way to honor God. God created us to use our bodies for his glory and his purposes. And though godliness is of supreme value, we know that physical training is of some value to the Lord. Paul helps us see the false dichotomy when he writes, “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” (1 Tim. 4:8).

All funds raised through the @globalhunger 5K will go directly to feed hungry people around the world. #SBC17

So we can assume that it’s okay to pursue exercise as a goal for healthy living and most importantly for godly living. Exercise provides strength for service, it can be restorative, and it can be rejuvenating. But the fact that there is a need for exercise at all is another reminder that we live in a fallen world with fallen bodies. If attempting to run a race is a reminder that we need to exercise, it serves as even more of a reminder that we need God.

The fall

The fall of mankind brought significant damage to the entire world. Not only did it bring sin into the world, cursing even our good deeds, it also brought disease and death. The result is that the moment we are born, our bodies begin the process of deteriorating. We develop and grow and fall apart. Even at 38 years old, I can’t jump as high or run as fast as I once did. And I find my body aching in places I never did before.

God informs Adam that humanity would “return to the ground” (Gen. 3:19) as part of the punishment for his sin. He will return as dust to the once pure and undefiled ground he was created from. Our bodies droop and change and grow tired. We try every experimental drug and various forms of exercise to prolong or prevent the inevitable. Botox and plastic surgery and a lifetime of marathons cannot prevent our inevitable fate. Like Adam, we are dust and will return to the dust (Gen. 3:19).

Resurrected bodies and the beauty of Christ

God, in his kindness, doesn’t leave us alone in our disintegration. In time, he will make all things new. What was once wrought with disease and pain will one day rise into glory with Christ. Paul connects the fall and our resurrection when he writes, “For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive. But each in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, then at his coming those who belong to Christ” (1 Cor. 15:22–23).

If that weren’t good news enough, Paul reminds us that not only will we be with Christ, but we will also be like him: “But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself” (Phil. 3:20–21).

Yes! God will make it new. He will transform our bodies—the ones we are pulling and tucking and starving and beating to try to make beautiful—and make them bodies beautiful, pure and glorious when he returns. Our bodies will never die again. And most importantly, we’ll be without sin.

Anything but worship

As we seek to exercise to the glory of God, our fallen and imperfect bodies are yet another way we can look to Christ. By his grace, we can take our eyes off of ourselves and fix them squarely on Jesus. Our bodies are made for worship and, if the Lord has us live long enough, we may be left with bodies that are unable to do anything but worship.

Each ache and pain and droopy muscle that was once firm, can serve as another reminder that we have a Savior who is perfect in beauty and is coming to get us, to return us to our pre-fall state, and to raise us to a condition more glorious than we can imagine.

The Global Hunger Relief Run is about so much more than exercise, but you will have the added benefit of getting on the move. If you are attending the SBC in June, please considering joining us for this important race. If you are not going to be at the SBC, but would still like to participate through your own fun run at home or through donating, you may donate here.