9/08/2011

A Weighty Series, part 8

Last week I began a series on body image and weight issues; you can read part 1part 2part 3part 4part 5, part 6, and part 7 to get caught up; you don't need to but I hope it's edifying to you if you do! After many posts with what culture says about beauty, we're getting to dig into what the Bible says about exercise, food, sinful behaviors that affect our bodies, and even what it says about physical beauty pertaining to women. I prayed, am praying, and will pray that many women read this, go to Jesus, and find peace and freedom. Enough women have tasted death, be it physically, mentally, emotionally, and/or spiritually in this area. Let's taste and see that the Lord is good.

Speaking of, today's post is about what the Bible says about food and drink, tomorrow focusing on sloth and gluttony. So here we go!

Our Bodies: Food & Drink
I could write an entire 5 day series just on this issue, but I won't. I will say this: the Bible speaks time and time again about feasting with joy. A quick search for "feast" brought up 187 results; "food" yields 193. Perhaps "feast" makes you uncomfortable because you envision people at buffets engorging themselves on all you can eat "deals".  That's not what God is talking about. However, nowhere did I find God saying to abstain from food in the New Testament save for being respectful of others so they'll not sin and so they'll be open to the Gospel (Romans 14:21, I Corinthians 8:13).

So, then, food and drink are good! God even uses food and drink metaphors for delighting in him. Many have heard the verse I quoted earlier, Psalm 34:8, "Taste and see that the Lord is good," or how Jesus described himself as the Living Water to the woman at the well in John 4. He even tells her that those who drink of him will never be thirsty again, but instead have an eternal spring of life welling up in them.


Jesus didn't just speak philosophically about food and drink. He frequently dined with people. He even went to dinner in the homes of Pharisees, despite knowing it was a ploy to try and theologically trap, and thus discredit, him; in the most notable instance he showed grace and wisdom that shamed the Pharisees for their sinful condemnation. Jesus' first recorded miracle was turning water into wine--and really good wine, at that!-- and some of his most famous miracles were turning a little food into a lot in order to feed his followers. When he raised a little girl from the dead he almost immediately had those with her bring her something to eat.

The last thing Jesus did before going to the Garden of Gethsemane to spend time with his Father before arrest, persecution, and death was to share a meal with his closest friends, the disciples. A billion plus Christians around the world and throughout history have taken communion, eating and drinking to remember Jesus' body broken and blood shed to forgive us of our sins, per Christ's instructions to us. After the Holy Spirit filled them, the Apostles didn't just dedicate themselves to spreading the Gospel and praying--they also dedicated themselves to the breaking of bread. They knew that meals with others matter.

This is crucial for us to take to heart: God gave us food and drink to enjoy as a way to worship him. Nowhere in the Bible can I find the word diet, nor any semblance of dieting without the name. Nowhere in the Bible can I find a command from God to abstain from alcohol purely on the basis that for all people at all times drinking is sin. There is going to be a great wedding feast in Heaven between Jesus, the groom, and the church (all Christians), his bride. It's called the marriage supper of the Lamb, almost certain to have great wine (I pray that in heaven I'll like it, as on earth I sure don't) and man, let me just say that if you're feeling blah about your walk with God just read Revelation 19. If that doesn't stir you up to worship then you need to ask the Holy Spirit if you really are saved and know Jesus. But that said, food is good and to be enjoyed.

Conscience Matters
Equally important to remember is this: food and drink are a matter of conscience. Obviously a pregnant mother shouldn't drink wine with the same freedom as if she weren't. Also, as Christ led us in example, we need to put the interests of others above our own, taking into account our surroundings. I am free to drink, but I have a friend who struggled with alcoholism in the past so we don't go to happy hour and put her in a tempting position when we have girl time. Similarly, since I'm in a place where I'm really working to cut out carbs and sugar (more on that in a future post toward the end of this series) she wouldn't request that our girl time is spent at Top Pot doughnuts, as much as I love that place.

I strongly recommend that you take just two minutes to go read I Corinthians 8 and 9. Paul is writing to the church at Corinth and he explains that our freedom in Christ is not so we can do whatever we want--it's meant that we would enslave ourselves to the Gospel and use whatever means necessary to see those in bondage to sin be set free in Christ. Paul had every right and freedom in Christ to get married, but he chose not to so that he could focus his entire life on spreading the Gospel of Christ crucified. I have every right to eat whatever I want, whenever I want, but how much better to worship Jesus by having food be for my stomach instead of my source of solace, comfort, and joy? That keeps my body free to worship Jesus instead of being enslaved and trapped in obesity that, only two years ago, made the simple act of going to the grocery store excruciatingly painful and exhausting. I was enslaved to gluttony and paid a heavy price, the pun being unintended yet completely accurate.

Evidence of my former slavery.
Hear me: I am not implying that every single person who is "overweight" or even morbidly obese is a slave to good--only God knows each person's heart. Right now I can testify that I am not enslaved to food though my BMI is technically in the morbidly obese category. For me two years ago, however, I repeat: I was absolutely enslaved to gluttony.

Speaking of gluttony, don't miss tomorrow's post. It's heartbreaking but I pray it still busts through links of the chains holding so many of us women in bondage.

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