Again, something from a bit further back in time… originally written in 2005, and revamped a little in January. Hey, it’s good to look back.
The first sin had to do with food. The Serpent said, “chow time” and humanity lost everything. Innocence, good times in the Garden, and relationship with God. Gluttony took over and humankind … wait. Gluttony? What is gluttony anyway? Dictionary.com has a rather vague definition, something along the lines of “eating or drinking in excess.” But really, why is that a “deadly sin?” God seems intimately concerned with our food. His first commandment regarded food in the Garden. Under Law, kashrut (keeping kosher) governed many aspects of daily life. Under grace, freedom in diet became a prominent issue. God is involved with our diets. He cares that no one go hungry, that we ask him for our “daily bread.” And yet, so few of us surrender our diets to him. How often do we “drive thru” because we’re running late? Or grab junk food because it’s easy?
Eating disorders are rampant. And, I’m not simply discussing those who are refusing to ingest calories. I’m also talking about those people like me…the ones who get stressed out over finals and drive 20 minutes to 7-11 to get the pack of peanut butter M’n’Ms and the Yoohoo. The stress-eaters, compulsive-eaters, fidgety-eaters, boozers, winos, munchers, and gourmets. Anyone who surrenders their self-control to food or beverage rather than Christ. This, my friends, is gluttony. And the consequences of this sin are both vast and manifold. Obesity, heart problems, diabetes, self-esteem issues, depression, cavities, high cholesterol, and liver problems to name a few. Yet, we eat what we want, when we want. We are defiant and “in control” of this area, leaving God to deal with the “spiritual” stuff. Gluttony takes over when we allow our own desires and wants to fill our bodies in the same way that pride takes over when we allow our own desires and wants to fill our souls. I believe that our bodies are just as important to God as our souls. Food has left the realm of fuel or art and entered the realm of instant gratification and hedonism. “If it tastes good, eat it!” Portion sizes are out of control, and people are needing to staple their stomachs in order to learn how not to eat. And yet, the church rarely confronts this as sin. As we in the US have more food in our trash each month than a microstate sees in a year, are we really being faithful with *all* that God has given us?
Our gluttony no longer affects just us and our bodies, or our relationship with God, but also the world. Jesus reinstates Peter by asking him to feed his sheep. He is constantly concerned with feeding the hungry. Jesus’ view of super-sizing a meal is multiplying bread and fish to feed 5000 people, not so that the boy can make himself sick to his stomach. His prophets reveal wrath unto Israel for allowing his people to go without food. Is it really necessary to “super-size” it in our way? There is a huge discrepancy between the amount of food we consume and the labor we produce or the effort we expend feeding the hungry. Our assumption that all food is ours for the taking and consuming and throwing away blatantly goes against God’s desire for those who are hungry to be fed. We’ve been blessed with wealth for God’s goodness and pleasure, not our own.
I’m not perfect. I’ll admit. I struggle with stress-eating. I’m having to radically transform my life in order to submit my food and diet to God. But it’s worth it. Just because we can afford to eat whatever we’d like doesn’t mean that we ought to. “Everything is permissible” but not everything is beneficial (1 Cor 10:23). With Lent just around the corner, I encourage you to fast from some food that you hold precious. Four years ago, my first fast was potatoes – do you have any idea how many things are based on potatoes? But it was worth it. Now, I don’t have to have the fries at In-N-Out, but I choose to. And the blessing before the meal really means something. As I’ve been surrendering food back to God, it’s amazing how my “Dear Jesus, yay for food” really becomes meaningful to me. I can delight in my food, be present to my meals, and remember who provides it. And by allowing myself to say no to myself sometimes, it allows me to often say yes to other people – like giving the guy holding out the cup my banana and power bar for breakfast because he needs it more than I do.
We live in the idle world of the everyday, praying for something more, something meaningful for which to live. And when those things don’t come, we always hold onto the hope that someday they will appear. But do they? There is always hope, but sometimes that hope seems so distant and so unlikely.
We find something, someone to cling to. They give us hope in this dark, dreary world, where war is always just around the corner and fear is a part of our daily lives. We listen to announcements about curfews and curses. We spend half our lives in pursuit of a goal that will never satisfy. Until we, like the precious money we so covet, are completely spent. We lose our emotions, our willingness, our courage.
And I still want to get hurt.
Because I was willing to be vulnerable and to trust my hope.
Because I was willing to open the floodgates and invite someone else in.
Because I wanted something more.
I knew deep down inside that the pain and anguish that I would inevitably feel would dissipate to be replaced with strength. Nothing loved is ever lost or perished. I will not allow myself to live in fear of pain. I will not allow myself the luxury of regret.
Have you noticed that we don’t really have time or patience anymore? People, I mean. In general. We run ourselves ragged, exhausted. But at the same time, we crave the burnout. We crave the incessant busy-ness of our worlds. We thrive on drama because it gives us something to talk about. We can all be good conversationalists as long as we have something dramatic, bizarre, or strange going on. We have lost the art of making simple, meaningful conversation.
Somehow we have changed. Unless we’re hipsters or armchair philosophers sitting around drinking our particularly particular beverages and pontificating broadly about the world’s ills, few of us take the time to engage in thorough-going intellectually stimulating conversation. Discussions about politics dribble into ‘he-said-she-said’ criticism and blame for all the world’s problems. If we even acknowledge world affairs, it’s only to talk about which side we’re on. Faith, history, philosophy, art, and music have become politically incorrect. They have become taboo by nature of their requirements. They require tension and doubt and willingness to be wrong. It’s rare today to find a conversation partner without their iPhones or tablets. The beauty and mystery of the mind is losing sway as cultural memory drowns softly and swiftly in a sea of technological advances.