The Fitness-Driven Church
Health comes as the overflow of loving God and submitting every realm of our lives to him, including loving and tending the God-made bodies he has given us as gifts—our neighbors' bodies and our own. The church has come a long way in this direction, says Walters, moving away from a negative, escapist theology toward valuing the body. But there's yet a long way to go. "I don't think we have a complete theology of the body and health yet."
I believe that theology will continue to be worked out by theologians, pastors, Zumba dancers, prayer walkers, and people like James Tate of First Baptist Church in Glenarden, Maryland, who lost 200 pounds through an eating and exercise program at his church. He no longer has to sit in the handicap seats in the sanctuary to accommodate a 415-pound frame. He teaches other men in his congregation about "taking care of our bodies" and helps them to develop a closer relationship with God.
Meanwhile, Michelle Reed would like her team to win the Losing to Win competition, but win or lose, she's gained something incalculable. "It's been so eye-opening that God cares about our whole selves. I want to honor him now in all the choices I make."
Leslie Leyland Fields is contributing editor and former columnist for Christianity Today. She has taught creative nonfiction in Seattle Pacific University's Master of Fine Arts program. Her memoir is titled Surviving the Island of Grace: Life on the Wild Edge of America (Epicenter Press).