We Are What We Eat
This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me. Luke 22:19
Unfortunately, I’ve put on a few pounds over the last couple of months. It’s not that I’ve gotten lazy. I still exercise most days of the week. My problem is all in what I eat. Holiday indulgences have turned into February regrets as my clothes don’t fit quite as well and as I struggle a little more at the gym.
It’s no mystery. I am what I eat and I’ve allowed myself to eat junk. If I want to build muscle, I must consume protein while training that muscle. If I want to lose weight, I need a calorie deficit. If I eat whatever I want, I gain fat. It’s how God made the world. When I consume what I know to be good for me, I choose health and life. When I eat whatever I want, I choose misery.
This is the metaphor that Jesus used in today’s passage at the Last Supper, what we now practice as communion. In the story, Jesus celebrated the Passover meal with his disciples, telling them that the bread and wine represented his body and blood which would soon be given for them. From that day on, whenever they ate or drank, they were to remember that Jesus was their spiritual nourishment.
Just as we must consume food and water for our physical sustenance, we must consume something for our spiritual sustenance. When I eat well, I choose health. When I eat garbage, I choose unhealthy. The same is true spiritually. If I daily consume Christ, I grow my spiritual life. If I don’t, my spiritual muscles shrink and weaken. Christ has done the work of restoring me to God. I can’t add to that. I can, however, know a little or a lot of his transforming presence in my life.
We like to think God does all the work because that alleviates our responsibility. Jesus taught however, that daily – as often as we eat or drink – we must fill ourselves with him. Eating right means that we choose the healthy, avoiding the destructive. We can’t simply add broccoli to a horrible diet. A wholesome diet means cutting out the bad and consuming the good. Likewise, daily, we must interrogate our activities and thoughts. Does this make me spiritually more or less unhealthy? We are responsible for what we fill ourselves with and the results, as with my diet, will be predictable.