“Let us lift up our heart with our hands unto God in the heavens.” Lamentations 3:41 (KJV)
This verse comes in the context of repentance. The nation of Israel was in exile, being disciplined by God. Jeremiah (the author of Lamentations) was pleading for God’s people to “turn again in repentance to the Lord” (v. 40) … & to lift up their hearts with their hands unto God.
Among other things, what strikes me in this passage is the plea to lift their hearts and hands to the Lord. To return not just their devotion and affection, but to turn their physical selves back to the Lord. It echoes what I believe God wants — all of us. Yes, God wants our hearts. But He also wants our physical selves. He wants all of us.
For decades, the church has (at best) forgotten about including our bodies in our devotion to God. (At worst, it has vilified the body as pure “flesh” and intentionally excluded it.). But I believe God wants more. I believe God wants all of us … and I believe Scripture as well as the history of God’s people reveals that.
When God first set the nation of Israel apart as His people, He gave them laws that covered all aspects of their lives. As it pertains to their bodies, the Torah included detailed descriptions of what foods to eat and not to eat, what to touch and what not to touch, where to go and where not to go, when to rest and when not to rest, etc. God included the body — our physical selves — in His description of how His people should live.
The early church carried forward this belief that God wanted all of us. Although the coming of Christ set us free from the food laws and other aspects of the Torah, we were not set free from loving God holistically. The early church promoted this idea by making Gluttony and Sloth two of the seven deadly sins. (Catch that? Two of seven. Almost 30% of the deadly sins pertained to food-intake and exercise. Hmmmmm.). (See also posts dated 5/7/14 and 5/9/14, Nourishment as Worship 2 and Exercise as Worship 2, respectively.)
So, with this in mind, I plea for every Christ-follower to join me in lifting our hearts and our hands up to God in heaven. Together, let’s return health and fitness to the realm of the sacred … because God made it sacred and declared it good. And He is worthy of all of us!