Call it passion, drive, ambition, even obsession. But I don’t like the word addiction.
Tobacco is an addiction. Alcohol can be an addiction. Smartphones and game systems can be addictions. But exercise?
God called my intense focus on exercise an idol. “Their god is their appetite, they brag about shameful things, and they think only about this life here on earth.” Philippians 3:19
I called it training. Every morning, before anything else, I tied on my running shoes and slipped onto the lamplit street. If my schedule got too tight and something had to give, it was anything except my workouts.
Once I skipped church to get in a long run. Often, I rolled out of bed on a Saturday morning leaving my slumbering husband to wake up alone. I had goals, no time for relationships.
Many modern addictions have become socially acceptable, even applauded. The workaholic is rewarded with raises. The compulsive exerciser is congratulated on being so thin. The shopaholic is envied for her good fashion. If we finally admit that we might have gone a bit overboard, rather than confess and abandon our idols, we demand a placebo. Or perhaps we are willing to reduce our obsessive pursuits but we fear to forsake them.
Recently, I spoke with a friend who was concerned that she might be drinking too much. “Is there something I can eat or do to cleanse my body?” she asked. She wanted the glass of wine, but she didn’t want the consequences.
When my health came to a critical point, I was forced to give up running. I looked fearfully for something to take its place. As I tried hours of weight lifting, swimming, spinning and fitness DVDs, peace remained elusive. But I continued to wonder, how can something intrinsically good, like exercise, be sin?
James 1:14-15 says, “But each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed.Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.”
Christ is the power that removes our addictions. “And we are eagerly waiting for him to return as our Savior. He will take our weak mortal bodies and change them into glorious bodies like his own, using the same power with which he will bring everything under his control.” Philippians 3:2-21