So, brothers, in whatever condition each was called, there let him remain with God. (1 Corinthians 7:24)

A friend recently accused me of idolatry. The hour I spent every day at the gym was significantly longer than that spent I poring over Scripture, he said. God obviously “wasn’t a priority” for me, he concluded.

The scary thing was that I could think of several other things – studies, ministry, work, books, even sleep – that I spent more time on than I did on God.

Are these idols? Seriously? Is the spirituality demanded of us really a simple matter of denying everything and being on our knees 24/7?


The majority of life consists of the physical, fleshly and carnal. These purposeless things are seen as lowly by-products of our fallenness. Taking out the trash. Cutting your nails. Your day job. (Gym.)

Then there’s the spiritual. These things are holy, purposeful, and sacred: Worship, prayer, the Sacraments, Bible study. Evangelism, discipleship, ministry. Of these, the Mary-sitting-at-Jesus’-feet sort take priority over the Martha activities.

We live in the constant tension of divided loyalties. We have to downplay the worldliness of our everyday humanity, while holding on to an ideal destiny that bears little resemblance to real-life. Two distinct kingdoms fighting for authority. We’re walking to and fro, and settle disillusioned in the borderlands.

Is the spirituality demanded of us really a simple matter of denying everything and being on our knees 24/7?

But this feels like slavery. We’re supposed to work, yet wait. We must pray, yet do good. Our faith becomes irrelevant to most of our life. Excessively “heaven-minded”, we are blind to our great Earthly purpose today, in this frustrating limbo.

We just wait for deliverance and hope for the best. Things could be falling apart around us but we beat our chests and say we’re bound for heaven.

On the whole, our holy huddles may begin to look like nothing more than a prescriptive, preventive social club, full of delusion and unfulfilled promises.

Where does that leave you? Shall you sail the streams of lukewarmness all your life? Do you look wistfully to the heroes of faith, and resign yourself to the limitations of your upbringing, genetics and environment?

Of course not.


While Jesus taught meekness and humility as kingdom values, we cannot confuse this for self-hatred and forced modesty. We are called to love God and man (including ourselves), who carry the likeness of God. Deny our self-directed wills, but not our reality.

After all, the Holy Spirit can only make His dwelling in a healthy temples (1 Corinthians 6:19). And the Holy Spirit doesn’t just dwell idly in us. Full human beings are awakened to live for His glory.

There was no sacred-secular antithesis for Jesus. Spirit and flesh unified, submitted to the will of Father God. I believe the life of Jesus, the carpenter’s son, had its fair share of the mundane. Think: Gathering wood, sawing, household chores.

But nothing was pointless; the whole of His life was about worshipping the Father (John 5:19).

Spirit and flesh might be different things, but an awakened spirit points all flesh to its Creator.

If you’re having second thoughts, remember that Paul proposed that even our eating and drinking can be for God’s glory (1 Corinthians 10:31).

Doesn’t sound too spiritual, does it? But it is; full, real, all-consuming. Rather than restricting our freedom, taking hold of God’s heart for our lives expands our perspective of what it means to die to sin and live for Him.

And it extends far beyond humanity.

Think about it. If all things were created from Him, through Him, and for Him, it means that every created thing – living and non-living – is there to bring Him glory.

The birds fly for Him. Fish swim for Him. Trees photosynthesise, fungi facilitate decay, tides rise and fall, waves crash, the wind blows, the clouds gather and disperse for Him. The rivers flow, and sculpt the terrestrial landscape for Him. The stones cry out. Minerals, DNA, molecules and atoms, planets, galaxies exist and interact.

All for His glory.

Our lives are no different. Spirit and flesh might be different things, but an awakened spirit points all flesh to its Creator.


So today I propose a toast. All life is vanity – eating, sleeping, working, lifting – unless we live in Him.

But here’s the catch. Even though I chug way more protein shakes than the blessed wine of Holy Communion, I’ve found the gym a place of great ministry.

The reasons people step into a gym are often similar to why they might give Church a shot. Many acknowledge their failings, and are taking intentional steps to repair and rebuild. Some are in it for the kick. Some dream of competition. Several others pay penance at the squat rack for a life of bad decisions.

But in here, community forms quickly. “Bros” are made in hours. When it gets serious, lifting partners literally depend on each other for their lives.

There’s trust, commitment, camaraderie. Walls come down, and before long you’re bearing more than just physical weight for one another. Relationships grow. Trust develops. Before long, you’re brethren and sistren in the iron.

I’m there for long, sweaty hours. Might as well make it count, in the form of long, deep conversation. I bring Jesus into that gym.

Want to reveal Jesus in the world around you? Paul became all things to all men, that the gospel may land in remote places (1 Corinthians 9:22). Jesus made his entire life worship, and we can too, wherever you find yourself.

And before long, God reveals why you’re there: To love, speak, and heal. To journey with others, and shine His light into the souls of men and women around you. Even in that sweaty gym.