Usually on Saturday I’ve been sharing recipes for food, but today I thought I’d rather share a recipe for satisfying hunger generally, which came to me from reflecting on a recent message referred to as “A Theology of Food.” That sounded like a crazy title to me, but by the end of the message, I understood what our pastor meant. “Pastor Jim” is working his way through the book of Romans, and we’re on Romans 14 now, where the Apostle Paul discusses eating. It had never occurred to me that man’s first prohibition concerned food, and that both Adam’s and Christ’s first temptations had to do with food. Although Jesus taught in Matthew 15 that it’s not what goes into our mouth but out of our mouth that can defile us, still, eating food can be sinful if it’s done to please ourselves without respect to what God wants for us. God intended food to be a blessing and to enable us to enjoy fellowship with one another and with Him, but we can make food into an idol when we allow eating to become an end in itself and use it for personal pleasure rather than for health and fellowship. I am not making the ascetic suggestion that we shouldn’t enjoy food, or that we should only eat as little as necessary to survive, or that we should never enjoy the abundant array of foods that are available to us, but (as our pastor reminded us), overeating as a form of therapy or as a fattening reward we don’t need is just plain wrong. All too often (and I’m totally guilty of this), we eat because we’re bored or lonely or tired, or feel overworked or underappreciated, or because our friends are eating…the list goes on. We train our brain to get an immediately gratifying buzz from the pleasurable sensations of hot chocolate or popcorn (or whatever), and we feel a little perk from the sugar or fat, with the net effect of feeling better in the moment but fatter in the morning…which is no different from any other addictive process! What we really need to do is train our brain to acknowledge need when we sense it, but to take that need straight to God, asking him to fill it with Himself or show us what He wants us to do to fill it. Invite Him into the conversation: Why do I feel this way? What is it that I really need? What should I do? I think if we all employed that strategy, and really listened for the still, small voice within our heart (God’s Holy Spirit), we’d quickly learn to let God fill us with just what we need…and probably most of the time (unless it’s actually meal time), it would not be more food!
“I am the Lord thy God, which brought thee out of the land of Egypt: open thy mouth wide, and I will fill it” (Psalm 81:10).
“But he answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God” (Matthew 4:4).