The church does a great job addressing sins about sex and deceit, but we hear very little about how we sin with our food and fitness choices. Learning to honor God with our bodies is a new layer of spiritual maturity that we must explore as a community. When we write about body image, we often write concerned with how we will fit in the outfit and not how our eating choices fit into God's will. Our consciousness of our bodies should not be centered on beauty and aesthetics, but on lived out honor for God's creation. If we hit our weight goal and still have spiritual weight, we have accomplished little.
Seeing Our Bodies As God's Creations
One of God's greatest creations is the human body. Our bodies contain the same elements found in the cosmos. The same power that lights up the sky at night is dwelling inside of you right this very moment. Your body, like the stars, is God's creation. He has trusted us with our bodies so that we can carry the gospel, live lives that inspire others and most of all, to worship Him. If we were designed to use our bodies for His mission and for His glory, how then might our food and fitness choices support or obstruct God's plan for our lives? It is easy to chastise people for how they mismanage their bodies sexually, but Christians are equally sinful when they are decidedly unhealthy. Some health struggles have nothing to do with our decisions, but many of us are unhealthy because we make small ungodly decisions each time we eat. The meaning behind God's caution for us not to be greedy or gluttonous is two fold: we are made to treat the earth and our own bodies well. Both suffer when we consume more than we should.
Becoming Aware of Our Emotions
I grew up in a single parent home and while we were not impoverished, we did not have major discretionary income. My mother would say we got half of what we wanted and all of what we needed, but I recall getting much more than half of my wants. Generally, those wants centered around foods. I can remember requesting various cheeses and olives for snacks when I visited other people's homes because I knew these were the snacks that I could not readily access at home. It was not until recently that I connected my love for pricier and more fattening foods with a latent poverty mindset. Being in places where I could eat what I wanted and not worry about eating the last of it gave me security. It made me happy.
I am an emotional eater - whether happy or sad, I seal the moment with something delicious. My affinity for steak, lobster, shrimp, crab legs and anything covered in cheese has recently become an area where God speaks to me. I realized that unaddressed emotions about my inability to have those things regularly as a child was influencing the rate at which I was purchasing and consuming them as an adult. I was feeding myself and my husband steak 2-3 times a week and I realized that both my spending and consumption were tied to a poverty mindset. Many of us have unhealthy relationships with foods now because of our relationship with money as kids. For some of us, as our income increases beyond what our parents had access to spend, we adopt unhealthy and ungodly eating habits. We have less proximity to poverty, but our minds are still operating on a capacity for scarcity. Poverty does not necessarily mean a lack of income, but a lack of something. A poverty mindset is driven by insuffiency and heavily influenced by a lack of security. Fearing scarcity creates obsessive overconsumption.
Consider these questions. What insecurities is food distracting you from? In what ways has food given you comfort and security? Why do you over-consume?
Honoring God with Our Diet
There is a school of thought in Christianity called ecological theology. This framework challenges us to consider that humans are an equal part of creation and that animals, plants, elements, energy, etc do not merely exist for our consumption. It says that when we abandon a human-centered Christianity and realize that God desires each part of creation to be well, then we are able to make careful decisions about our consumption. We don't waste tissue. We don't run water for excessive periods of time. We are mindful of our carbon footprint. We are good to the earth because we are stewarding it for the people who will inhabit it when we no longer can. The concept of stewardship is centered on the way we honor God by caring for what He entrust us with. So, how are we honoring God with the ecosystem of our bodies? Are we mindful of what we consume? Are we monitoring our amounts of consumption? Are we consuming at a rate that is mindful of others? What we choose to eat and how much we choose to eat of it is a direct reflection of how we honor God's creation. The things we consume are God's creation and the bodies that consume such things are also His creation.
A poverty mindset fueled by latent inadequacies can lead to wretchedness manifested in food choices and portions. The etymology of poverty means "wretched condition" and when we cannot control our consumption we need deliverance. Romans 7:24 says, "O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?" Ordinarily, I would say Jesus. And, the scripture says that He will. Yet, I am pressed to wonder if some of us are begging Christ to deliver us from poor health scenarios that we cemented with our forks. The challenge for us today is to manage our diets and fitness in such a way that we don't need deliverance due to our poor dietary and fitness choices. The calling for us today is to treat our bodies like the Creator is coming to inspect them.
Walking Away From Food Abuse
Our excessive and consumeristic society is one that does not reflect the origins of Christianity. In the garden of Eden, God placed Adam and Eve among the animals and plants. They existed within nature and not apart from it. When we abuse food, we do so because we do not see ourselves as having a shared responsibility or equality with all of God's creation. We eat food because it is there and not always because we need it. We facilitate the depletion of food sources, we create scarcity of food items and we harm our bodies irreparably all because we are unidentified food abusers. The sobering fact is clear: when we abuse food, we abuse ourselves and we dishonor God.
We are trained to associate food and emotions as a child. We got a lollipop at the doctor. We had pizza parties for scholastic success. We got donuts on report card day at home. We eat cake for our birthdays and chocolates on Valentine's Day. Christmas and Thanksgiving are centered around the menu more than the family. The wedding reception is all about the cake. We even look forward to the repast after a very sad funeral. Thus, our happiest times are always paired with food. Conversely, for many of us, our saddest times seem to require food for a mood reversal. When culture encourages emotional food consumption and our schedules limit our ability to be physically fit, how do we break the cycle?
It's time to explore healthy relationships with food and to uncover a healthier version of ourselves. Start praying for God to give you the discernment and wisdom regarding your emotions and the way you treat your body. We have to work diligently to present a version of ourselves that does not find fulfillment in abusing creation, but one that finds fulfillment in honoring the Creator. We create because God made us in His image. The enemy yearns to manipulate how we model creation by encouraging us to create unhealthy versions of ourselves. The first trick of the enemy on humankind was to convince someone to consume something that they did not need to consume. As it were with Adam and Eve, consider the voice that encourages what you eat and be wise enough to know when it is the enemy. God does not want us to starve. God delights when we delight in His creation. It is our abuse of God's creation that is both sinful and harmful.
We have to ask ourselves: what are we creating with our food and fitness choices? Are we creating bodies that honor God's image or ones that will limit us from achieving our purpose? Are we creating a life and a world that does not match the image of God? Are our consumption habits ones that honor the earth and all life? Are we conditioning our body for a life of service?
Before you eat today...think on these things. Your body is a well...it is what God uses to carry out His mission. So, if your body is God's well, how well are you treating it?
Join us at 12pm CST this Sunday at The Church at the Well [514 S Perkins inside White Station High School] and discover why we say #wemakewells! Can't be there in person, stream LIVE here: https://www.facebook.com/wemakewells/
See you soon!