Diet as Worship
The correlation between our mouths and our hearts
Diet as Worship?
You’re probably doing a double-take on the title of this post. I certainly wouldn’t blame you if you did! We don’t worship food (of course not)! We don’t worship nature. We don’t worship any part of the created order.
We only worship our God.
But read the title again. It doesn’t say “Diet-worship.” It says “Diet as worship.” Big difference.
OK, I get it. You’re still scratching your head. So…let me break it down for you.
All of life is worship
A former pastor of mine used to always remind us that “all of life is worship.” Just a casual tour through the Bible will tell you that. As you read along, you’ll find out it has a lot to say about government, business, interpersonal relationships, work, keeping up a home…in other words, just about every sphere of life. And yes, it even talks a lot about food.
Paul put it this way: “Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God — this is your true and proper worship” (Romans 12:1–emphasis mine). Think about that for a moment. He’s telling us to offer our bodies — not just our spirits and souls — up to God. Our bodies are purely earthly vehicles — we don’t take them to heaven with us. They are the very vehicles by which we accomplish our daily chores and routines as well as go about our more “spiritual” activities such as prayer, evangelism, etc. In other words, they represent all of life. By offering them up to God, we are engaged in true and perfect worship!
Our American Approach to this
OK, so offering up our bodies is part of the essence of true and proper worship. Well pray tell, what fuels our bodies? For the most part, it’s diet and exercise. So wouldn’t it stand to reason that physical body maintenance should be as much a staple of our church teaching “diet” as any other subject?
Yet what we hear from our pulpits on this issue is mostly crickets. It’s as though the idea of body maintenance is merely incidental. It’s as though God doesn’t care. It’s kind of a modern-day Gnosticism.
But one look at the Sunday church bulletin should be enough to drive the point home: Disease is an epidemic in the church. Couple that with a glance at the welcoming table filled with donuts — as well as the expanding waistlines all around us — and we should realize that this epidemic is mostly self-inflicted.
The region of the U.S. where I live, the Southeast, is widely-known as being “The Bible Belt.” It’s also widely-known for its predilection of fried foods and widespread obesity.
Be honest with me: does this attract people to Jesus? Does this in any way send a positive message of how He can change lives?
You know the answer, and it’s not a pleasant one.
Yes our pulpits are silent.
The Plain Truth
We know that certain sins open up (i.e. unforgiveness, occult activity, sexual sins, etc.) open up major doors for demonic activity in our lives. Has it ever occurred to us that the sin of gluttony opens up a door to the demonic as well? In this case, the open doors include not only sickness but also lethargy, depression, stress, and even premature death.
In 2017, Messianic worship artist Paul Wilbur was two days away from a ministry trip overseas when he found himself in the hospital with heart attack symptoms. He cried out to Jesus — and the pain went away. But more importantly, so did the constant high blood pressure (190/110 on average) and the food cravings. Here’s what he said on the other side:
“I’ve been the absolute picture of health since I said, ‘Jesus, I need You!’ I have dropped 22 pounds so far and my next goal is 10 more. I am eating to live instead of living to eat! I don’t dream about Five Guys burgers and fries anymore; what happened?” (Taken from https://www.wilburministries.com/update-paul-wilburs-health/)
Of course, he knows what happened. Jesus took away his cravings that were killing him. Dr. Michael Brown experienced the same thing in his own journey catalogued in his book, Breaking the Stronghold of Food. The book chronicles not only the horrible diet he used to have (including Oreo cookies for breakfast!), but also the increased vitality and passion he has for the Lord since losing 95 pounds. His blood pressure and cholesterol are now at normal levels. And the CPAP machine he needed for sleep apnea? It’s no longer needed because the apnea went away.
According to Romans 8:29, God’s ultimate purpose is to conform us to the image of His Son. Self-inflicted illness throws up a roadblock in the face of His plan. It limits our intimacy with Him — which is the very vehicle by which we are transformed. I mean c’mon, who wants to pray when you’re sick? And it goes without saying that self-inflicted illness robs us of the very vitality with which we serve Him.
Get the point?
Bringing it all home
Does the phrase, ‘Diet as Worship,’ make more sense now? Are you beginning to see the correlation between what we put into our mouths and what is poured into our hearts?
Perhaps this is not an easy issue for pastors to bring up because most of us Americans (including American pastors) struggle with it. Perhaps too many feel defeated by it. Or perhaps it’s because the Bible doesn’t speak so strongly to this issue (notwithstanding that there were no processed foods and French fries in Bible times).
I am not in a position to do a deep dive into the underlying causes of food addiction — of which there are many. Rather, the purpose of this post is to simply open the eyes of the reader to a component of our daily worship that we too often ignore to our own detriment.
May the ignorance cease. May our pulpits be silent no more. May we indeed understand the centrality of our bodies — and taking care of them — to the gospel itself.