Have a c-section or back surgery and you’ll find out– really fast– how important your abdominal muscles are. That’s why you hear, over and over again in the fitness world, that you must strengthen your core. “You have to focus on strengthening those abs . . .your middle. . . your body’s center of power.” Any way you say it, you need those abdominal muscles to be strong to stay fit and to do anything that requires you to use your back.
If you are a Christian, your spiritual core is the Gospel. If you want to improve your body image you need the Gospel.
It should be the lens through which you filter life–the core that we have to strengthen through regular workouts of our faith. We strengthen our belief and acceptance of the Gospel of Jesus Christ as a part of the sanctification process. We become stronger and better able to live out our faith as we internalize the truth of the Gospel.
When our spiritual core is strong we can, “pick up our cross daily” as Jesus directs us too. Carrying a cross isn’t like carrying your lunch box or phone. No, it requires a strong back and, I would argue, stronger abs.
So how strong is are spiritual abs?
And, by that I mean, how well do you know and, (here’s the tough part), actually believe the Gospel?
Are you thinking you’ve got that one down? You know John 3:16 by heart and you’ve seen The Passion. Jesus died on the cross for your sins. You “believe” that. You wouldn’t go to church if you didn’t, right?
Isn’t the Gospel just the basic tenant of our faith? Don’t we acknowledge what Jesus did and then you work on other stuff, right?
That’s what I used to believe. Then someone showed it to me in a different way.
What the Gospel Means to My Body Image
You see, if we truly believed the Gospel, we would never be scared. Never lonely. We would never have identity or worth-related issues. Never worry about what others think about us. We would never be anxious about money or terrorism or elections, tornados or hurricanes. If we truly believed the Gospel, we’d look very different. We’d act very different. Sound very different.
It may actually seem like we had something that someone else might be interested in. We would be different, radical, and attractive to a fear-filled world.
Allow me to explain.
The Gospel of Jesus Christ says that God, the God of the universe, loved us so much that he gave up his only son for us, so that we may live with Him, in Heaven, eternally.
So, if I truly believed that the God who created the universe thought I was pretty special, would I care what the mean girl at the gym thinks? Would it bother me that I don’t look like the cover of Fitness magazine? Should I stress all day over whether or not the new pants I’m wearing make me look fat?
Struggling to Believe
If I truly believed that this same, very important person, loved me so much that he chose to have his own son die to save me, would I struggle with not feeling like my husband loves me enough or worry that I won’t have provision for tomorrow? Would I doubt that a God who went to that extreme to save me for eternity wouldn’t pull me through when my job goes south or when the storm rages?
You see, if you are like me. You may think you believe. But, you may also struggle to believe.
And, then, a statement made to Jesus, two thousand years ago, suddenly makes sense. “Lord, I believe, help my unbelief.” (Mark 9:24)
The Gospel is as central to understanding and applying the Bible as developing abdominal strength is to becoming fit and healthy. You can’t be a great boxer with weak abs. You can’t be a great spiritual warrior without a strong understanding of the Gospel and its application to every aspect of your daily life. And, you can’t fight your body image and comparison battles without a core understanding that your value comes from Christ alone.
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