Several days ago, I recognized the existence of other gods in the post entitled, “Engaging in Elohiming.” Drawing directly from some remarks that Borg made in his book The Heart Of Christianity, I named one of these deities “Appearance.” This morning I realized that I regularly attend a temple to the god of Appearance: the gym.
Locating the temple of the god of Appearance in the gym is more than metaphorical. There seem to be some historical roots that tie the gym with worship. Wikipedia reveals this,
“The athletic contests for which the gymnasium supplied the means of training and competition formed part of the social and spiritual life of the Greeks from very early on. The contests took place in honour of heroes and gods, sometimes forming part of a periodic festival or the funeral rites of a deceased chief.”
I’m beginning to see that I am constantly placed in circumstances where I must choose between which gods I’m training for to honor. As one who has made God my elohim, I have to be careful that Appearance doesn’t capture my attention and worship. Indeed, I have often found myself concerned about the appearance (or lack there of) of muscle mass and/or cardiovascular weakness.
This, however, is not the point of my gymnastic training. I run, climb, ride, and lift so that I can treat my body with respect. Ultimately, it is a gesture of thankfulness to the truly divine One, who has given me my body. Moreover, it is an attempt to extend my time of service under the divine One. These are motivations that I must always remember.
Yahweh purposefully made the Jews construct visual reminders of their devotion to him. If I am serious about remembering my motivation for exercising and not beginning to worship Appearance, then I must also construct some sort of visual reminder.
Gymnastic metaphor is all over the NT, and it seems like an appropriate way to end this post. Perhaps in can mentally convert the temple to Appearance into a temple for God by beginning to think like this guy (Paul) did:
Acts 20: 24However, I consider my life worth nothing to me; my only aim is to finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me—the task of testifying to the good news of God’s grace.
1st Corinthians 9: 24 Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. 25 Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever.