1. Every Square Inch Fitness is neither a diet nor an exercise program; it is a philosophy, a mindset, an alignment of this arena of life under the lordship of King Jesus.
As the deceased Dutch theologian, Abraham Kuyper, once said, “There is not a square inch in the whole domain of our human existence over which Christ, who is sovereign over all, does not cry: ‘Mine!'” Our title is an affirmation and also a desire – an affirmation that He reigns over fitness, which is a foreign concept to Christians and non-Christians alike, and a desire, in that this whole endeavor is an exploration of the depths of His reign and its practical implications.
2. We affirm that all of life is worship,
that fleeting tastes are resources to help us taste the greatness of the One who created them, that endorphin rushes awaken us to more supreme joys in God, that feeling the way that God has gifted a person helps the servant experience the smile of God (e.g. Eric Liddell: “When I run, I feel God smile”).
3. We affirm that our food and exercise goals should be driven by our desire to enjoy more of God.
As displayed in Jonathan Edwards’ (18th century theologian) lifestyle and writings, we believe that we should each adjust our fitness goals, in order that we may be able to enjoy more of God daily and share more of His greatness with others. (See our forthcoming 20-40 Challenge, based in Jonathan Edwards’ philosophy.)
4. We affirm that everything God created is good, including food and exercise.
Humans have the tendency to debase what God has called “good” (Gnosticism). The whole New Testament proclaims that Jesus is the only hope and sufficiency for sinners, such as ourselves, and it combats placing unnecessary burdens on our backs. “Do not taste; do not touch” have been debunked a couple thousand years ago and are of “no value” (Colossians 2:21, 23)! Creation is inherently good, even though sin has attached itself to it like a parasite. Further, poor philosophies/theologies steal our joy in our physical existence because they devalue our bodies in an attempt to be heavenly-minded.
5. We believe that creation’s groaning, because of sin, impacts our bodily suffering and our enjoyment of fitness.
All of God’s good creation is presently groaning (Romans 8:22), because of mankind’s fall into sin. Yet one Man, the Son of God, has come to defeat sin and death and to reverse the curse. We affirm that we get a foretaste of what is to come as we begin to experience His redemption in every area of our lives, even fitness.
6. We affirm that we can explore the greatness of Christ in fitness through general revelation.
By putting on the spectacles of Scripture (Calvin), we open up another book of Christ and His greatness in the physical world, which is often overlooked by those seeking to be spiritual.
7. We believe that we can look along the beams (C.S. Lewis) of joy found in fitness to the greater Source of joy, in God Himself.
Many people inherently enjoy fitness; many don’t. Diet and exercise gurus often try to motivate us to find joy by coming up with some ulterior motive, which, from our experience, never seems to last. We believe that we can look behind these little joys each of us find in food and/or exercise to the ultimate joy, because we see that it is pointing to Jesus. As C.S. Lewis observed in his Meditations In A Tool Shed, we not only see the rays of the sun and say that they exist, but we look along the beams and see that they come from the sun. In the same way, we affirm that little joys that can be found via nutrition and exercise are beams to be looked along, because we know the Source that the beams are meant to lead us back to.
8. We believe that we should be both creation-affirming and creation-denying.
Because our hearts are little idol factories that take good things and make them ultimate things, we affirm “the blessedly two-edged character of Christianity” (C.S. Lewis) that, while we can celebrate what God has called good, we should also set it aside at times, so that the gift doesn’t replace the Giver. At times we should feast; at times we should fast. At times we will give more effort to our diet and exercise; at times we will sacrifice these good joys to give to others (e.g. as we’ve seen soldiers and missionaries do).
9. We affirm that we will have physical bodies forever and won’t be living in a disembodied state playing (spiritual?) harps in clouds for all eternity.
Popular level religion sucks the joy out of eternity by picturing people as angels with harps on clouds. But who wants that?! Rather, we believe that the physical joys we experience now, whether in food or exercise, are foretastes of greater physical joys we will have forever under the reign of King Jesus, if we are His servants. There sin will no longer distort our physical capacities.
10. We deny that any individual weight loss or exercise program is the answer.
Humans tend to look for hope and often think they’ve found it through great advertising. We believe that nutrition plans and exercise programs can be resources that may work for a time, but that there are deeper issues that need dealt with in order to achieve better health. Any “lose-weight-quickly” or “get-sexy-in-2-days” program is a scam and unhealthy.
11. We deny that supreme physical health is the goal and affirm that we are all dying.
Physical health is a component of our enjoyment of God, but our hope remains when this finally fails, as it will, for all of us. We do not believe, however, that we should speed our demise or forsake our stewardship because of this fact. We are neither pessimistic, as some who are too “heavenly-minded” (which we don’t think can exist), nor are we overly optimistic with regards to our health, as some in contemporary fitness culture.
12. We deny that there is one diet or exercise program, which is God’s way.
All such attempts to develop a plan are taken out of context and steal our joys and freedom to enjoy King Jesus. In light of this, we affirm that Augustine’s statement, “Love God and do what you want” has great applicability in finding balance and freedom in this arena. One so-called “biblical diet” we deny is the Daniel Diet, which has the appearance of godliness, but may be damaging if it causes the adherent to boast in his/her rule-following ability, rather than in Christ. Furthermore, Daniel and his friends were actually fatter than everyone else after a trial on the Daniel Diet (Daniel 1:15)! We also believe that a John the Baptist Diet might also have the appearance of godliness, but a steady diet of locusts and honey is no more marketable than a steady diet of government cheese!
13. We deny that conforming to a cultural image is the goal of fitness, and we affirm that fitness will look different outwardly for every person.
We believe that insecurity, narcissism, or a number of other struggles may cause a person to pursue outward conformity to their desired image. We deny that outward conformity should be equated with physical or spiritual health. Most diets or exercise programs are driven by a desire to conform to somebody on a magazine, a catwalk, or in a movie. However, differing cultures and time periods have had their own ways of shaping outward expectations. We believe that, although fitness is based upon some basic principles, the end result should look different for every individual, so that the variety of images we see will point us to the multi-faceted creativity of God.