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Body Image

Our culture puts enormous value in how we look; how we present ourselves. But what is a healthy body image? As Christians should we even care about our bodies? Tyrone Atkin shares how he walked the fine line between disciplined commitment and obsessive idolatry – and the relief that came with following Jesus.

Striving for a Healthy Body Image

Tyrone: “I think I used to live just to maintain this image, or this idea, of what I wanted to look like. Everything was structured around training and what I was going to eat. That could be described as being committed… but there’s a level to which you need to start being real with yourself. I think the line is thin between being committed and being unhealthy. So it was a balance I struggled to maintain for a long time and I still make mistakes. But like I said, I had to evaluate why I was doing what I was doing.”

What Does Body Image Mean?

Body image is the way I perceive myself, or the way I’d like to be perceived by other people. It’s the view I have of my physical outward self. Body image can be negative or positive.

Body image is about how you feel emotionally about your body.

Negatively you have things like Bigorexia and Anorexia. Where people feel like they are inadequate. It typically ties into a very low view of body image or self image. Body shaming – where people are publicly critical of how you look – is a real thing. It is an evil thing and we should not do it.

However, Trying to be holistically aware of of your well-being is positive. So not just what you look like outwardly. Body image is about how you feel emotionally about your body. Looking after your heart and your your organs and all those things. It contributes. Just being aware of what you put into your body. Even if you don’t exercise every day, trying to exercise regularly to maintain this vessel that you’ve been given is important. Because we should steward our bodies well.

Christians should Care for their Bodies

A healthy body can help you fight off your sin. As you put on the armour of God you will do so with a clear mind, clear conscience. You can be active in pursuing holiness and fighting against sin.

Secondly, it’s helpful for you to serve other people. Your job, your family, your extended relatives and especially the kingdom of God as you serve the church. We glorify God as we do all these things. When we look after our bodies it benefits the body of Christ as well.

When we look after our bodies it benefits the body of Christ as well.

Our Bodies can Become an Idol

There is always a risk that your body and how you look can become an idol.

“I used to live just to maintain this body image. Or this idea of what I wanted to look like. Everything was structured around training and what I was going to eat.”

“When you are living in the dark, you’re not as overtly aware of why you do all the nonsense that you do. But you know as soon as you take a step out into the light a lot of your motives and your thinking becomes exposed. Obviously that’s a that’s a great thing, but it’s a difficult process to go through.”

I realise that my life needs to be centred around around Jesus, not training. That’s been one of the most difficult things to get right. I mean we all have our vices but I think that one is definitely been very real for me.

Fearfully and Wonderfully Made in a Fallen World

“You are made in God’s image. God fearfully and wonderfully made you and in one sense there’s nothing wrong with you. One sense. In another sense we live in a fallen and broken world and so sin has affected everything and we need to look after ourselves.
We must remind each other of the infinite value we have because we possess God’s image
But not in an obsessive way, because at the end of the day, this is a temple that’s gonna stay here. We’ll have glorified bodies one day when Jesus comes back. Bodies that won’t decay, bodies, that won’t die, bodies that won’t age. But we’ll have perfect bodies one day. For now, we have these bodies and they have all sorts of problems.

We must remind each other of the infinite value we have because we possess God’s image. That’s the best thing! Dogs don’t have it. Flowers don’t have it. Buildings don’t have it. We have God’s image and that’s what puts us above all other creation. And so let’s honour God and glorify him as we do that with our bodies.”

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