What Food Is For

Soul. Body. Soul


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Learning to Feed Yourself With Christ, (With Help From a New Friend)

The last piece I posted was lightly edited one I wrote two years ago. Rereading it sent me on a bit of a meditative journey of gratitude to God, as I looked back on all He’s done in me through blogging, even as I get ready to take a month long sabbatical from it, and all things social media, to pursue some study in a very different direction.

A few years ago, God woke my soul from a season of slumber by transforming the way I approached Bible study. For most of my life, I had viewed the Bible primarily as a book to be studied and comprehended. But when I came to see God’s Word as literal food for my soul, my spiritual life was revitalized. That is, after all, what food does.

Food gives us life.

I started this blog as a way to think more deeply about how the way God created our need for physical food speaks to the greater reality of our need for spiritual food in the person of Jesus Christ. So deep did my study take me that I started take classes in microbiology, chemistry, and anatomy and physiology, in pursuit of a master’s degree in nutritional science. I wanted to understand the metaphor of food at the literal molecular level.

The deeper I went, the greater the insights God opened up, and I hoped to put all that I was learning into a book. Life and finances eventually intervened, so that I had to put my formal studies on hold and go back to work. Then, new friendships and conversations drew my thinking in lots of other directions, so that I didn’t invest as much time here as I’d planned. But I’ve never, ever lost my conviction that the way we were created to feed ourselves, and feed one another, declares some of the most vital and literally life-giving truths of the gospel, to ourselves, and to those who don’t yet know the Lord. Those convictions shape the way I read my Bible, or go to church, even today – on days when I want to, and especially on days when I don’t.

That’s why I’d like to introduce you to my new friend, Rondi.

Rondi Lauterbach and I met online last year as P&R was preparing to launch her first book. We all know you’re not supposed to judge a book by its cover, let alone the lady who wrote it. But when a book looks like this, can you blame me for being almost sure I would love it, and her?

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“Almost sure” turned into “absolutely” once I started reading, and you can read my full review here.   Spoiler alert – it’s one of the best resources I’ve yet read for helping new believers, or even not-yet believers, study the Bible in such a way that they will see and experience Jesus each time they read.

What I particularly appreciate about Rondi’s book is that it’s not the result of a couple of years’ striving on social media, building an Internet platform and a personal brand. It’s the culmination of literal decades of teaching women in the churches her husband has served as pastor. Her ministry is about helping people feed on Jesus, by seeing Jesus in His Word, way more than it’s about Twitter followers and blog traffic. Want proof? On the main page of her blog, if you click on Hear, you won’t find links to podcasts she’s created or radio programs she’s been interviewed on; you’ll read about hearing the good news of the gospel. If you click on See, you won’t get a list of her upcoming appearances at the biggest womens’ conferences; you’ll read about seeing Jesus.

Rondi isn’t overly gifted at exploiting the Internet so that people discover her; she’s tremendously gifted at teaching the Bible so that you’ll discover Jesus.

As I’m getting ready to take my Internet sabbatical to focus on some topics beyond food that have been gripping my heart and mind of late, I invite you to follow Rondi’s blog as she begins a weekly series of blogposts walking readers through her book. I hope you’ll be blessed as she teaches you, from  God’s Word, how all of our deepest hungers find their ultimate satisfaction in Jesus.

You’ll be very well fed.

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Eden and The Upper Room

When I was a microbiology student, I spent a lot of time looking at teeny tiny things through the lens of a big, clunky microscope. One of actions we had to take to bring those teeny things into view involved narrowing the field of vision – reducing the area of focus to increase your chances of seeing little microbiological somethingorothers. Sometimes, I was looking for single-celled organisms of mathematical beauty called diatoms. But most of the time, I was was  looking at the kinds of creatures that wreak havoc with our digestive systems when we, well, ingest something previous egested , or when we, ahem,  experience the consequences of an illicit bodily interaction someone.  (My search histories for homework that semester required a lot of explaining.) In class, I spent a lot of time twiddling dials and turning knobs to focus on a tiny field of view. On the way from the lab to my car, I would spend a long time squinting and blinking to remind my not-as-good-as-they-once-were eyes what my normal field of vision was supposed to be.

Whatever field of vision Adam and Eve had in those first days in Eden, we can surmise from the description God gives that it was beautiful. And delicious. With all that modern agriculture has done to bring back so-called “artisanal” fruits and vegetables to our diets, can you imagine how fruits and vegetables grown directly by the hand of God must have tasted? And with the cost that modern farmers incur to bring these varieties to market (and then pass on to consumers, so that a pound of heirloom tomatoes can set you back $10), doesn’t the language of generosity that God employs to invite Adam and Eve to eat what He’s grown seem rich?

This lavishness is what makes Satan’s enticement of Eve all the more insidious, and her acquiescence more tragic. In a single, short conversation, Satan reorients Eve’s field of vision away from all to which God has given His generous “Yes”, and fixed it on the one thing to which He has said “No”. In a rapidly spiraling series of half truths, distortions and lies, Eve infuses the one thing she is denied with a universe of meaning. Her vision is now fatally fixed. She sees fulfillment in finite creation, instead of its infinite, divine Source. With Adam silent at her side, Eve takes Satan at his word, and for the first time, her eating brings death, instead of life.

Any of us who have ever fought an addiction, or just inordinate attachment to food or other creaturely pleasure,  can easily recognize Eve’s battle in our own. Satan draws our eyes away from the incomparable riches of His grace, and onto what we don’t have, but suddenly crave with all of our being. Our marriage is crumbling, our kids are rebelling, our career is imploding, our ministry is dying, and suddenly a fridge, or a bottle, or a website, or a chat room, or a risky deal, is all we can see. It offers all that we think we lack.

We look away from God and toward what He’s made, we eat, and we die.

When I think of how often we rehearse Adam and Eve’s deathly ritual of disordered disordered eating in our daily life, I can’t help but marvel at how Jesus replaces it with one of life in His supper. In the giving of bread and wine, to His disciples in the upper room, and to His people whenever we meet together, Jesus does for His bride what Adam neglected to do for his. Jesus reminds us, with the bread and wine, and with His words, where true joy and fulfillment, and life, is to be found. In Communion, Jesus undoes the fatal distortions of Eden and refocuses our spiritual field of vision of food as a picture of our true life in Him, instead of death in our sin.

In Eden, Adam and Eve made food about themselves.

In His Supper, Jesus reminds us that food is about Him.