Several months ago I was honored to be selected to participate in a blog tour of Gary Thomas’ new book Every Body Matters: Strengthening Your Body to Strengthen Your Soul. Thomas is one of my all-time favorite authors, one I’ve referenced before. This particular book initially seemed a departure from Thomas’ other works, since most of his works are much more, how shall I say it… Contemplative in nature. But the book is worth the read.
Thomas argues that our physical health directly impacts our spiritual health, and he makes the argument very well. My concern as I began reading the book was that it would focus more on the physical body and not enough on Christ, but I did not find that the case. As with all of Thomas’ works, this book repeatedly focused me on the finished work of Christ and motivated me to examine my own theology of the body in a way no one else has ever done (I’m actually reading another book on the body which I’ll be reviewing soon).
As an example of this constant reminder of God’s grace offered through Christ, read this quote from page 72: “Because of God’s grace, yesterday doesn’t count. Because of God’s hope, worry about tomorrow is inappropriate. This moment, this day, this hour, are we being faithful toward God, honoring him with what we eat and don’t eat, and taking care of our bodies accordingly?”
Later on in the book Thomas pulls no punches in his accusations against us as Christians: “Laziness is the great spiritual assassin of our time…Laziness is more than a sin – it’s an attitude that undercuts our sens of duty to God and our obligation to our neighbor, and an attitude that wastes our lives.” (p101) He then offers physical fitness as the cure for laziness and compares it to farming: “Much of the work that produces [physical fitness] is unseen. No one is applauding or even recognizing our efforts. But the life it creates can be used by God to bless and serve many.” (p107)
Overall, he challenges us to maintain our physical fitness not for our sake or for our body’s sake, but because unless we are physically fit we will be unable to fulfill the jobs God has left for us: “God has given you many gifts and hard-won experience – are you maintaining your body in such a way that you can be a good steward of these gifts until God chooses to take you home?” (p121-22) He then spends the rest of the book laying out this theology – this plan to honor God by keeping our bodies healthy so we are physically able to serve him for this lifetime.
I’m giving this book 4.5/5 stars. For the record, yes I received this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest (though not necessarily favorable) review.