Finding spiritual fitness one year into a global pandemic
When I was in my early 20s, I turned my family’s garage into a gym. It is safe to say, I have worked out at home long before the COVID-19 pandemic hit.
Now, I’m not a handyman or a natural athlete, but I took pride in painting the walls, laying rubber flooring, installing gym equipment, mounting a TV, stocking the refrigerator and setting up a sound system. I even pinned a calendar to the door to track my progress through a then-popular fitness program. My home gym was a dream come true.
For inspiration, I wrote the following on my workout calendar: “…train yourself for godliness; for while bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come” (1 Timothy 4:7b-8).
Living in the age of the ancient Greek Olympiad, the Apostle Paul was no doubt familiar with the importance of training to stay fit and healthy. Perhaps he also wrote from his personal experience, needing a high level of stamina for multiple journeys across Europe and the Middle East.
But it is clear from this Scripture that Paul understood there is a training even more valuable than physical training — a fitness that impacts both this life and the life to come. He called it “godliness training,” essentially developing a regimen of putting God–our creator and the sustainer of the universe–first in each and every area of life.
In the year since COVID-19 shelter-in-place orders first began, this type of training feels more important than ever. We have watched sales of exercise equipment skyrocket—up 170 percent — as people stuck at home convert their garages, living rooms and extra space into home gyms. But, with anxiety and depression rates doubling, we now know that spiritual and mental health are just as important as physical health. So, what proactive steps are we taking to hold fast to hope during these uncertain times?
A more holistic vision for life — prioritizing our spiritual fitness along with our physical health— is necessary. For Christians, spiritual fitness starts with hearing and learning about the Lord Jesus Christ and then believing and trusting in Him (Romans 10:9-13). From that point on, life is a journey of learning to trust Christ, keeping in step with the Holy Spirit, and seeking first His Kingdom in all our relationships, pursuits and experiences. But just like physical fitness, that doesn’t just happen. Spiritual fitness requires time, training and intentionality.
Like my home gym workout calendar, spiritual fitness is best accomplished with a plan. And that’s exactly why we created WordGo — a free, app-based program that offers ready-made Bible studies for those looking to easily study scripture on their own, or lead or join a small group study in their community or at their church. WordGo has stepped into our 2021 reality to provide a starting point for spiritual training even when our communities have to gather virtually. Building on decades of experience and rich theology from Bible Study Fellowship, WordGo is designed for those of us who are looking to grow deeper in our faith by offering customizable Bible study plans and simple planning tools that bring people together and inspire meaningful discussion. Through innovative learning plans and a variety of study guides, we aim to help people prioritize spiritual health — whether they want to do it with a group (virtually or in person), through their local church or on their own.
With no clear end in sight for the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, physical fitness will certainly help us cope. But by itself, it won’t satisfy our deepest longings, answer our greatest fears, fulfill our God-given eternal purpose or bring us hope in life’s uncertain circumstances. For that, we need spiritual fitness in Christ and from studying His word.
So, with the same vigor that we pursue physical health, let’s commit to make 2021 a year characterized by our dedication to spiritual fitness. We will be better for it.
Simon Lennox is passionate about helping others to flourish in body, mind, and spirit. He works at Bible Study Fellowship as director of WordGo, an App for personal and group Bible study; and is a Trustee of Word One to One and The Feed Trust. As a certified fitness professional, Simon also founded a missional fitness community called BreakFit. Simon lives in Northern Ireland with his wife, Amy, and daughter, Rosie.
WordGo is created and supported by Bible Study Fellowship (BSF). BSF has been enhancing and resourcing in-depth Bible study since the early 1960s and currently serves 400,000 people across 180 countries. The ad-free, app-based program can be downloaded in the app store or by visiting wordgo.org.