Last weekend I preached about gluttony. Knowing I was preaching on that subject I thought it would be one of those easy weeks where I would say, “eating too much is bad” and the Christian solution is to “fast”. But any pastor knows when it comes to preaching, things are never that simple.
The more I read in preparation for this teaching, I realized that gluttony isn’t just about eating too much. It’s not even about finding pleasure in food. Too often we hear messages that pleasure is sinful so we need to stay away from it. That however is not what we find in the Bible. The Bible is filled with examples of the goodness of food. Adam and Eve were told to eat and enjoy the food of the garden. Solomon writes in Ecclesiastes that there is nothing better for humanity than to enjoy their food, drink and work (Ecclesiastes 3v14). Pleasure, only becomes problematic when we seek it excessively, to fill some void to the exclusion of searching for God.
The real problem with gluttony is when we are mastered by food.
I wrestled with the question “Am I mastered by food?” After reflecting on this I came to the conclusion that “yes”, food does have mastery over me. I am the kind of person that thinks about food all day long. My whole day revolves around food. In the morning, I already know what I want to eat for lunch and dinner. Sometimes I go to bed thinking about what I will have for dinner the next day. And I am not talking about “meal prepping”. Maybe I don’t over indulge, but that’s the point. So much of my attention is on something temporary instead of paying attention to the eternal. Instead of focusing my attention on “comfort food”, I could instead be focusing on how to deal with the thing that is driving me to comfort food.
The other way I realized food has mastery over me is that I will eat things I know will make me feel terrible afterwards.But I still eat them because I know the taste will be so good. This is problematic because when I feel that heaviness and lethargy, it is way too difficult to focus on anything. It oftentimes takes up to 5 hours before I can give my best attention to my work, my writing, and conversations. It even affects the way I interact in my personal relationships. So what seemed like a simple tasty meal, instead becomes a dead weight that keeps me from doing the work I am called to.
Which leads me to my takeaway. Eating is a deeply spiritual thing. What I put in my body affects how my body feels, how my brain thinks and how my soul interacts with others. This of course doesn’t just happen with food. There are a ton of things we pursue or consume thinking it will make us feel good. Often, those things we pursue are simply distractions masquerading as solutions.
For me, this teaching that was supposed to be an “easy one” instead turned out to be a mirror for which to examine the ways I am being mastered by things that are keeping me from living the life I was born to live.
The three questions I asked myself. Maybe they can help you too.
Does food master me?
How does it master me?
What does that mean for myself spirituality.
You can watch the whole message below. Or listen to the audio version here.