This is not something we talk about a lot because in our culture it is fairly socially acceptable to use and abuse food. We like to think of addictions to drugs and alcohol as the really serious dangers; but in an age of cancers, heart disease, and diabetes being as widespread as they are I think we can safely say that the wrong food is killing us as a people. One of my greatest personal stumbling blocks in this life is food. It is something I continually use to excess for my good pleasure and it has been to the detriment of my body, my mind and my spirit. Truly, even against ridicule for my body shape, warnings from health professionals about the dangers of being obese, and the ill effects from poor food choices I have experienced believe me when I say that nothing short of God himself can and will deliver me from the self-imposed bondage. He alone is willing and able to see me freed from my slavery to food. So it is in this mindset of giving this issue over to God that I’ve been asking the following questions:
What does God want me to eat?
How do my food choices show who my life belongs to?
Can someone identify me (or dismiss me) as a Christ follower based on what I eat?
I happened upon an internet article by Josh Bishop titled, “Digesting Grace: Why the Food We Eat Matters to God” and I’d like to share some passages from this with you since he had great insight on this issue.
Food is a gift. In fact, food is the first gift. In one entirely accurate sense, all things from God’s good hands are gifts, but I think food is somehow unique. Open a Bible to Genesis 1 and look at what God does in the creation story. More specifically, look at the verbs: God creates, he hovers, he says, he names, he separates, he makes and blesses and sees and declares it good. But it isn’t until the end of the chapter, in verse 29, that he gives. And what does he give? Food.
“Behold,” God says, “I have given you every plant and every tree. You shall have them for food.” Later, after the Flood, God adds animals: “Every moving thing that lives shall be food for you. And as I gave you the green plants, I give you everything” (Gen. 9:3). When properly understood as a gift, it becomes clear that food is a tangible expression of God’s love for us. As theologian Norman Wirzba has put it, food is “God’s love made edible.” It is one essential way that he shows his care for us (see Matt. 6:26). It is a physical embodiment of God’s common grace, given for the good of his creation. And it’s one of the practical means by which Jesus Christ sustains all things.
“Food is not a product,” writes gardener and author Fred Bahnson in Making Peace with the Land. “It is not ‘fuel for the machine.’ It is not a commodity or a reflection of our technological ingenuity. It is before everything else an unearned gift from God, manna from heaven, a blessing.” Because food is a gift, how we handle it—what we eat and how we eat it—is much more than a matter of convenience, taste, desire, or consumption. How I respond to a gift is an indication of how I feel about the giver. And because food is a gift of God’s good grace, I respond by eating food that manifests God’s grace well.
Which raises a significant question: Is it possible for particular foods to better manifest God’s grace than other foods? I think so. Food that causes our bodies harm misuses and ultimately abuses his gift of grace. When food is healthy and grown with reverence for its environment and with care for those in our communities it provides genuine nourishment, body and soul.
These words so impactful on my day and decision on what to put into my body to best express my gratefulness for yet another of God’s perfect gifts. It definitely inspired me to do more research (especially going to the Word of God for His instructions) about which food choices cause me to glorify God and to strive for that in my life today and every day.