Food and Faith
Can the wedding guests mourn as long as the bridegroom is with them? The days will come when the bridegroom is taken away from them, and then they will fast. Matthew 9:15
I have friends who’ve never had a problem with drugs or alcohol, but who understand food addiction. When I hear them talk about food – the hiding, shame, and broken promises – it sounds a lot like my drug addiction, albeit with different consequences.
I’ve struggled with both drugs and food. Again, it’s different consequences, but when I lose control, eating a bag of chocolate chips, the next morning, I find it a little more difficult to get my head pointed in the right direction. Prayer, meditation, and writing is always a little harder after a chocolate relapse.
I don’t want to over-spiritualize the trivial, but I’ve had to accept this principle: My flesh wants to control me. My appetite is cunning, baffling, and powerful – and it wants to take my life in a direction that I don’t want to go. When I allow my decisions to be made by my stomach, I gradually enslave myself more and more to my flesh.
It may start out with chocolate chips, but surrender in one little area, even if it’s trivial, makes me more susceptible to something bigger. After a little failure, I’m more likely to engage in resentful, lustful, or greedy thoughts. Then, I’m far less likely to open my Bible, pray, or spend time growing my spiritual life. My flesh is continually at war with my spirit (1 Peter 2:11).
In today’s passage, Jesus was asked why his disciples didn’t fast. Jesus insisted that fasting’s purpose was to bring one closer to God. While he was physically with them then, they didn’t need to fast. The lesson for me, is that because Christ is not here in the flesh, he asks that I put some effort into seeking him. Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you (James 4:8).
Not everyone struggles with food, but we must realize that addiction isn’t just about drugs. We can be distracted from physical and spiritual health by any appetite that takes us where we don’t want to go. It’s impossible to indulge in the self-destructive desires of our flesh while growing our spiritual life. If we truly want to know faith, life, and recovery, we must daily work at abandoning those appetites that injure our spiritual growth.