Most of us think of worship as something we do on Sunday morning with friends and family and the praise band playing, or sitting in a pew somewhere in our beautiful stained-glass buildings. Most would say that worship starts at 11:00 and ends at noon! As we exit the building, that’s where our worship stops, or does it? Many of us continue to worship, but at a different kind of altar. We head to the nearest “all you can eat” buffet giving praise to God, while we fill up our plates for a second and third time. What if we could make a connection between our eating and exercise commitments and our worship?
I’ll never forget the day when God impressed upon my mind that how we eat and exercise can also be a way to glorify God. It happened one morning when I was on a run.
I wore an old t-shirt that said “I never run alone” with a picture of a cross on it. I was really struggling that morning so I just started to pray. I gave thanks for the strength I had to even put one foot in front of the other; I prayed for my children, and prayed that God would help me make good food choices that day. By the time I looked at my watch, I had been jogging for 60 minutes! When I focused on the Lord, my body just kept going. My spirit and my body were blessed that morning. I decided that from that moment on, every opportunity I had to exercise would be a worship experience. Even when I am teaching a class, I take the time to mentally make a connection to Him.
A Holy Encounter
Since that “fruitful run of prayer and praise,” my exercise experiences have become about something more important than just me and my body. That dedicated exercise time has become a holy encounter with the Living God. The same is true when I choose to deny myself unhealthy foods. I have discovered that God can satisfy me beyond my physical appetite. Presenting myself to him daily, in this body he has given me, has become such a powerful part of my walking with Him, I can’t imagine living life any other way. Abiding with Jesus consecrates my day and my efforts to become something holy, set apart to glorify him and not myself.
Our whole lives can be a living sacrifice to God. Everything we do can be seen as an act of worship when we place God at the center, allowing him to transform the way we think and act.
In Romans chapter 12, Paul proclaims an amazing truth—because God loves us, we should in turn live lives that demonstrate that mercy. In other words, we are to live a life of worship. Paul wrote in verse 1,
Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship.
Paul called this our “spiritual act of worship.”
The Lord sanctifies not just our minds and spirits, but also our bodies. Sanctification is the process by which we move closer and closer to Christ in this world. Gradually, as we make choices to conform our lives to God’s ways, He works in us to help us become a clearer reflection of Christ. We present our bodies because God made us to live a full and complete life. If we allow our natural selves to rule in our exercise and eating, we run the risk of not allowing God to do His greatest work of sanctification in us, because we’ve limited His options due to our health.
How are we supposed to present our bodies? As a living sacrifice!
Up until the death of Jesus, God’s plan included His people offering sacrifices regularly in the Temple. With Jesus, God did away with the need for regular sacrifices, but He did not do away with the idea of sacrifice. Paul is saying: “Now that we no longer need the old sacrifices, I want you to present your whole self as a living sacrifice.” Christ has already done the work, making you acceptable in God’s sight; now live out your life in such a way that others see God’s love and glory through you.
Check out these power verses,
“Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise—the fruit of lips that confess his name. And do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased.”
Your life becomes the sacrifice. Imagine the power of your testimony if when someone asked you why you decided to eat healthy and get in shape, you responded, “God’s given me a short time on earth and I want to live as long and as productively as I can to show others His amazing love. I need to be healthy to do that well.” God would be glorified through you as a living sacrifice.
I would like you to consider that each time you make a sacrifice of what you should eat over what you want to eat you are presenting your body as a living sacrifice; you are performing an act of worship.
The acts of choosing food, or exercise can be presented to the Lord as a sacrifice and an act of worship. These acts will cost you something and it should. Sacrifices don’t come easy, but they come with a tremendous blessing.
Pressing on toward the Goal.