Food—it’s an important part of our everyday lives. Think about how much time food or activities related to food take up as a percentage of the 16 hours you are awake each day (OK, so maybe it’s 18 or 19 hours—but you should really get more sleep). Anyways, a decent part of our days are spent at the supermarket, at restaurants with friends, in transit to those places, whipping up some culinary treat like mac-and-cheese or, of course, watching The Iron Chef on the Food Network.
The reality is that in our culture, food is a large part of who we are and what we do. Yep, you are what you eat—or something like that. Yet, in many ways, food is being misused. Our society is suffering from subtle deceptions about food that are killing us. And we need to do something about it.
Do we have any clue, any real grasp of the frequency or the severity of the eating disorders that people are suffering from? Anorexia, bulimia, binge eating, regular overeating—our media tells us there’s a problem, but many people don’t seem to be paying attention or listening. Read any of the articles on the super-thin supermodels that have died recently? Read about or seen with your own eyes the current obesity epidemic in our nation?
These disorders are hurting those who—when all the layers are pulled off—just really need Jesus. At times, people worship their bodies and think they can do a better job with them by food suppression. Some people turn to heavy consumption for comfort rather than healthy, God-honoring ways of viewing food. Others feel the need for acceptance and turn to unhealthy dieting in the midst of their own physical insecurity.
Many times, seemingly insignificant lies concerning food seem to have slipped under the radar screen and cause some to not identify the line between unhealthy habits and sinful behavior—these bad habits can affect a person’s intimacy with Jesus. Much of the responsibility for helping those who struggle with food-related issues lies with the Church. When was the last time you heard a sermon on healthy eating habits or talked about an eating disorder of a struggling brother or a sister during small group? Has time been spent getting into the Word to see what it really says about food and its role in our lives?
Now, don’t get me wrong—food is an important element in Scripture, and it was created by God to be enjoyed, but not worshipped. Food is meant to provide energy to our bodies. Our bodies are meant to serve and honor God and other brothers and sisters. Like a car that we maintain by properly servicing it regularly and fuelling it so that it completes its primary function as a mode of transportation, we should properly maintain our bodies so that they are in an optimal state to serve and honor the Lord. Food is also often an important element as a means to fellowship, but it shouldn’t be the only one.
So what now? Once we know what deceptions the enemy is using and his strategy for hurting God’s children, we can better prepare and educate ourselves about the issues surrounding eating disorders. Seeking out what the Word says about food and how to live with it and not for it, is a good start. It is also important to make the Church a place where people suffering with food-related issues can find treatment, receive accountability and develop healthy views about self-image, confidence and food.