Worshipping the False God “Food”

It’s slightly ironic that I’m sitting here at Panera, with the heavenly smells of fresh baked bread wafting over me, finally admitting to what God has been convicting me of these past few weeks.  After searching my heart for the idols that have been taking God’s rightful place, God showed me a huge idol in my life.  It’s food.

If this isn’t your particular item of worship, it might not sound like a big deal to you.  But if you, like me, get a lot of comfort from a carb fix or a chocolate bar, you’ll know how this revelation might hit pretty hard. 

When I was sitting in church, answering Pastor Mark’s questions about the idols in our life, it became immediately clear that food fit many of the criteria.

  •  Who/what makes you happiest? Why?

When I started thinking about what I looked forward to the most, it typically equalled something gooey and sweet. 

  • Who/what makes you saddest? Why?

I’m at my crankiest when I haven’t eaten in awhile or when I’m feeling “deprived.”

  • On earth, where do you run for your safety or comfort as your hiding place (e.g. the fridge, alcohol, the television, a person, a place, a hobby)?

Of all the questions, this one really got to the heart of the issue.  Food is my number one place for comfort. When I’m feeling down or lonely, I don’t run to God.  I run to the cupboard, where my functional god is prepackaged for my immediate satisfaction.

  • Who or what do you use to save you from what you fear (e.g. a relationship, children, money, shopping, sex, etc.)?

It’s amazing how a bowl of ice cream drowns out all my worries, at least for awhile.

  • Which idols are in your life that when appreciated and/or stewarded correctly are means of worship but have become objects of worship (e.g. work, family, health, friendship, pleasure, leisure, hobby, etc.)?

I know food is a good thing, given by God for our enjoyment and our health and well being.  But, when that good thing becomes a god thing, something I worship, it’s a problem.  Instead, I can imagine that I could worship God with my use of food, but that’s something I have to learn how to do.

  •  What idols am I selling to others?

It’s amazing how easy it is for me to praise amazing food to my friends and even strangers.  I was blessed to have a friend stop at Panera and join me for lunch, and I can hear myself singing the praises of various items on the menu.  When do I talk about Jesus like that, so freely, without shame?

Stay tuned for more on this topic, as I seek God’s help for my sanctification in this area.   I’m learning a lot, but it’s a hard process, when one’s primary source of comfort gets challenged.

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2 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Oh boy…this is a topic I’ve wrestled with for quite awhile. The Weigh Down workshop really helped me get a handle on it; I’ve learn to identify the feeling of being hungry and being full, and eating only when hungry and stopping when full, fueling the body instead of filling emotional needs.

    You are right, the mind wants that feel good chemical that is released when eating, it is faster than prayer! The “worship” of a pan of brownies or quart of ice cream is a fast fix that like all false gods, robs one of health and wealth (nothing worse than being too fat for your clothes…)

    Gwen Shamblin’s book “Weigh Down Diet” is an excellent resource about the food as idol topic.
    She created several classes on the topic; her theology and classes got more complex in later years, and was not palatable to mainstream Christianity. I thought even when she was pushing boundaries her thoughts was worth considering-a draconian take on “be ye perfect”, an extreme balance to “Jesus is my buddy…God is my friend..it’s all good” hang loose/do as you please/eternal security theology.

    It is interesting to me that most Christians look down on someone who smokes, drinks too much or fornicates, but those who indulge in gluttony, (which address the same emotional issues) get a complete pass. Church potluck anyone?

    Fun, FOOD and fellowship…how many times have you heard that one? And how many television preachers are preaching through a serious double chin?

    I still find my hand reaching out to snag a cookie or tidbit as a mindless response to transitions or stress. I wonder if you have always had this food focus, or if your recent surgery and dietary restrictions fostered a craving that just got out of control. Even if that is the case, it still leaves room for the question of how the food went from being nourishment to being an idol; and if it wasn’t food, would there be something else taking God’s place?

    AL: Jill, as always, a very wonderful response. I’ve read Shamblin’s book, and i share many of your concerns and some of your praise but perhaps a bit more hesitantly. She doesn’t offer as much of the heart transformation effort I’d like to see as much as the “white knuckling it’ for Jesus approach that gets preached so often in response to habitual sin. I’m currently reading another book that I think focuses more on Christ’s ability to transform our heart and change our attitudes about food. It’s called a Woman of Moderation by Dee Brestin. Only part way in though. Another great one is John Piper’s a Hunger For God on the topic of Fasting.

    My problem has been a lifelong struggle, but you’re very perceptive to pick up on my recent surgery’s connection on all of this. I think my surgery helped me bring to light how much I was relying on food, just like a spiritual fast will do that for you for many kinds of idols. I was on a several month fast by necessity, and because I couldn’t have my comfort food, I saw how I had been using it because I couldn’t have it anymore. Now that I can eat most of it again, I’m faced with the ability to have the idol once more but with new awareness about how I was using it as a replacement for God.

  2. This sermon was really convicting to me, too, and I’m still chewing on it after a few weeks.

    AL: hehe, “chewing on it.” Good one. My husband missed that service because he was on call, but he’s listening to it on mp3 now because everybody is talking about it so much.


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