Food, Comfort, and the Gospel
It happened again. I found myself eating until I was too full. I found myself eating when I wasn't hungry. I found myself eating because I was stressed. I found myself eating because it tasted good and I just wanted to experience a little bit of comfort.
Soon after my wife and I had our first child we discovered she had a breathing defect. She would outgrow it, but for the first few months we didn’t get much sleep. She cried almost non-stop. The situation was stressful. It has taken awhile, but the Lord revealed to me that in that hard time I made food my god and at times I still do.
It may be gluttony, it may be idolatry—and it is probably both—but I believe that this is one of the greatest unspoken sins facing the church in America today. We have exchanged the glory of God for cheap, temporary comfort readily available at the nearest convenience store or drive thru. We are so entrenched in it that it is rarely spoken of or preached from the pulpit. Our gods are our bellies and we’ve turned a blind eye.
Why aren’t we talking about it? It could be because there are so many heavier issues going on in the world today that what one chooses to eat doesn’t seem like that big of a deal. It could be that there are so many bigger sins that this seems relatively minor. It could just be because we enjoy it and we derive joy from it so we want to ignore it.
In Paul’s letter to the Philippians, he shows us that this is no new struggle. He says, “For many, of whom I have often told you and now tell you even with tears, walk as enemies of the cross of Christ. Their end is their destruction, their god is their belly, and they glory in their shame with minds set on earthly things” (Philippians 3:18-19).
Paul makes it clear that these people of whom he had often spoken of to the Philippians had made this world the one they were living for. They weren’t thinking eternally, but instead treasured earthly pleasures. These people walk as enemies of the cross. They place high value on the hedonism of the present rather than the eternal joy that was purchased in the agony of Christ taking on God’s wrath for sinners on the cross.
We, as Americans, with our wealth and availability of goods can so easily fall into this trap. It is so easy for my belly to become my god. It is so easy for me to look to earthly things for my comfort and joy. I pass the eternal joy purchased at the cross for a cheap joy purchased at the grocery store.
If we keep reading, Paul makes it clear that there’s something so much better than finding fleeting pleasure in earthly indulgences. He says, “But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body to be like His glorious body, by the power that enables Him even to subject all things to Himself” (Philippians 3:20-21).
Paul tells us that if we’ve been saved by Jesus and walk as friends of the cross then our citizenship is not on this earth. This earth is not the place we are living for. Instead, we realize there is greater joy to be had in the Savior we wait for. He is coming for His people. He will make us like Him. He has already defeated death and He has put everything under His feet. His is the victory and ours is the joy, a joy that is far greater than anything this world can offer us.
Finally, Paul exhorts, “Therefore, my brothers, whom I love and long for, my joy and crown, stand firm thus in the Lord, my beloved” (Philippians 4:1). Stand firm. Paul says for us to hold fast to Christ. Treasure Him more than food. My belly is pitiful god. Food is such temporary, cheap joy. My comfort and satisfaction will be so quickly depleted.
One day my body will be made like Christ’s. I won’t lust for food. I won’t be tempted to comfort myself with it instead of Jesus’ finished work on my behalf. I must remember where my citizenship lies anticipating the return of my Savior who purchased eternal joy at the cross. Until then I must stand strong.