For many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ: Whose end is destruction, whose God is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame, who mind earthly things.
I was reading in Philippians the other day, and this phrase caught me: "Their god is their belly." I immediately thought about how obsessed we are with food in this culture. And I do mean "WE." I cannot let myself off of this one. Much of my life revolves around planning, buying, and making food. It has gotten worse since Rory was diagnosed with food allergies. And ironically the less money we have available, the more important food seems to be.
One of my husband's pet peeves is people posting pictures of their dinner on Facebook. But really, food is everywhere. And it seems like over the years it has become more important.
Everyone is concerned about their diet. But it's gotten much more specific than it used to be. Years ago, if someone said they were "on a diet," you assumed that they were cutting back on food in order to lose weight. That is no longer the case. We now have a plethora of diets available, which are all meant to make us healthier in some way or another. And they all involve a lot of thought about what food you are eating. Or not eating, as the case may be.
Aside from the health issues, we expect food to be pleasant. It has gone beyond sustenance to pleasure. We have multiple versions of everything from coffee to cheese to breakfast cereal to bottled water, and everyone has an opinion about which one is best. Our small local grocery store has a huge section allocated to pet food! Even our dogs and cats have somehow acquired "discriminating tastes."
I am not a historian, but it seems that we have entered a strange era. We now have so much to eat that we have to manufacture ways to burn off the calories. We spend money on food that we don't need so that we can spend more money at the gym working it all off. What would happen if we just ate the right amount for our lifestyles to begin with?
Now here's where the really scary part comes in. The verse I quoted at the beginning of this post calls people "enemies of Christ" whose "God is their belly." The passage ends with "who mind earthly things." I wonder. In our obsession with food, are we making it an idol? Has it become our God? If I think of the amount of time I spend each day doing worrying about food, compared to the amount of time I spend with God, I am ashamed. Jesus said in Matthew 6:25 "Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment?" Yet we do worry. I confess that I get a little nervous if I don't have a full cupboard. If I really thought about it, I would realize that I have enough food for quite a while. It may not be worthy of Pinterest, but I won't starve, and neither will the rest of my family, or even my pets.
The sad thing is that there are people starving. While I worry about my three squares a day, there are people who are lucky to get one bowl of rice. Maybe this is part of the "enemies of Christ" thing. Because how can I spend all this time and money and energy on making sure I have enough pleasureable food to be comfortable and full, while ignoring those around me who are neither?
I took one of my kids for bloodwork at a lab this summer. While we were in the waiting room, there was a television tuned to the Rachel Ray show. Of course, she was making a delicious looking meal. There was a man who was also waiting for bloodwork who had to come in fasting. He commented that he was so hungry he could taste what she was cooking through the TV screen! And he had only missed breakfast! How many people do we offend this way every day with our food talk? And why aren't we ashamed to do it?
I also wonder what I'm teaching my kids. I fasted one day - just between supper one day and supper the next - in order to take the time to pray. Lily was angry at me! She thought I was going to die! Really! Somehow I have given her the impression that if she doesn't eat three meals a day, she will honestly not survive. I don't really believe this, but I must act that way. God forgive me! In trying to make sure my kids have enough food, I have passed down this lifestyle to another generation.
Next week is Thanksgiving here in the United States. The food holiday. Other holidays have gifts, but Thanksgiving is all about the food. As we spend the day eating with our families and friends, let's remember the real reason for the holiday. Let's give thanks to God for his care of us. The God of Life, not the God of our belly.