My Appetite is an Idiot
Beloved, I urge you as sojourners and exiles to abstain from the passions of the flesh, which wage war against your soul. 1 Peter 2:11
Over the last couple of weeks, since my knee surgery, I’ve not been as active as usual and I’ve been sitting around at home, which means continual access to the kitchen. I’ve been wearing sweatpants though, so, the extra fat around my middle hasn’t been obvious until last night when we went out to dinner and I put on jeans, which were tighter than I remember. That was discouraging, so I tried to eat something reasonably healthy at the restaurant. I must eat differently if I’m not working out as much. Back at home though, I got a craving for chocolate. I didn’t need chocolate. Chocolate wasn’t good for me. But I want it! My appetite is an idiot, continually desiring things which simply aren’t healthy for me.
This, of course, would be amusing if it concerned only chocolate and sweatpants. Unfortunately though, following my appetite is what once destroyed my life in my drug addiction. I didn’t set out to wreck my life. I just followed my appetite until I nearly lost everything. My appetite is profoundly self-destructive and at times, it appears that it wants to kill me.
That may seem dramatic, but it’s confirmed by today’s passage in which Peter said that it is our own passions which wage war against our souls. We may not all have drug addictions, but we all have selfish desires that distract us from being who God made us to be. This, by definition, is self-destructive to our spiritual lives. For some, the struggles are obvious: lust, pornography, gambling, rage, or alcohol. For others, those things which distract us from following God may be as pedestrian as selfishness with time and money, gluttony, status, appearance, or financial success.
Here’s the question – If we claim to be Christians, are we following Christ as we should be? If not, why not? The answer usually lies in our own appetite and desires. It’s our own selfishness that puts our will above God’s, which places us in opposition to him. Our appetites wage war against our souls, desiring that which is inherently unhealthy for us.
If we want to be physically healthy, have healthy relationships, and enjoy spiritual health, at some point, we must say no to our appetites. Paradoxically, it is in abandoning our own self-destructive nature that brings us authentic joy in life. Daily, we must go to God, asking what it is that must go. Then, we must work at giving that thing up to God. In doing so, he gradually changes our appetites so that they aren’t quite so idiotic.