Below is an overview from a five week class I taught at my church over the summer. I would love to develop an ongoing ministry focussing on the connection betwee our spiritual walk with God, and the food we eat.
We have a spiritual relationship with the food that we eat. We recognize one aspect of this when we pause to ask a blessing at meal time. We often consider the spiritual implications of the relationships we have with people, places, and things in our lives, but many of us seldom, if ever, consider the spiritual implications of the food we eat. This five part series of lessons will explore the connection between the food we eat and our spiritual walk with God, and how our food choices can better honor Him.
Lesson One: Genesis Three. The Fall, Original Sin, and Food Choices
We not only have a spiritual connection with food, but we wage a spiritual battle with it as well. Food played a major role in our fall from grace. What did Adam and Eve do? They ate the forbidden fruit!
We know that the forbidden fruit was:
Good for food Pleasing to the eye Desirable to gain wisdom Placed right in the middle of the garden
But we also know the forbidden fruit was OFF LIMITS!!
God created man and placed him above all other creatures. To man he give free will. But free will to do what? The “test” for man wasn't just whether he'd accept or reject God. It involved more than that. For Adam and Eve, obedience to God meant saying no to themselves. Why did the knowledge of good and evil come in the form of a forbidden food? Why not a forbidden book? A forbidden place? A forbidden activity? God could have chosen ANYTHING. So why food? Because of all of man's physical wants and needs, none is more basic than his need and desire for food. In lesson one we explore these connections and set the stage for the lessons to follow.
Lesson Two: Healthy Appetites – Too Much Is Never Enough
God has given man different appetites. We have appetites for food, sex, power, money, control, pleasure, entertainment, etc. With each of these appetites we can choose to be content with “enough”, or we can seek “more”. Without exception, when it comes to these various appetites, “too much is never enough”. That is, whenever we have enough but still seek more we can turn a healthy appetite into an unhealthy one, and find ourselves chasing and never catching the satisfaction we seek. This is true in every area of human life and for every kind of appetite man has. In Lesson Two we will learn about the nature of a healthy appetite for food by comparing it to other appetites that we, as Christians, have paid much better attention to. The main example being our appetite for sexual gratification. As Christians we have a good grasp on the importance of limiting our sexual activities to one mate, within the confines of marriage. We understand that by so limiting ourselves we actually find the greatest level of joy and happiness. We find this arrangement to be both physically satisfying and spiritually uplifting. But we know that when we chase “more” we do not find it, but rather, only find pain, misery, and a spiritual deadening. This is true when instead of “enough” we seek “more” money, or power, or any other thing we can think of. This is true when we allow ourselves to develop unhealthy appetites such as addictions to alcohol, drugs, or any other thing. In this lesson we discuss how these same principles apply to our food choices, and will give examples of healthy and unhealthy food appetites.
Lesson Three: Examples of Biblical Eating
Genesis makes pretty clear that Adam and Eve were vegetarians. God did not give permission for man to eat meat until Noah's time. Later came the Old Testament Dietary Laws. In lesson three we're going to compare the diet Adam and Eve ate to what God later permits man to eat and then compare those two things to what we typically eat today. As New Testament Christians we have more freedom in our diets than Adam and Eve did. But like Adam and Eve, there are consequences for us when we eat the wrong things. We'll learn about Daniel's diet. We'll learn about the connection between the ever increasing number of chronic diseases we suffer in modern life and their connection to the food we eat.
Lesson Four:What Went Wrong With Our Food – A History Of Modern Food Production
The food we eat today is not the same as the food we ate just 50 years ago, and the food we ate 50 years ago wasn't the same as the food we ate 100 years ago. Truth is, we've been processing foods in unhealthy ways for thousands of years, but this trend really started to pick up steam in the 1850's and by the 1950's was well under way, and has only gotten worse and worse since then. We have learned ways to process foods to maximize the attributes that our tongues desire. As a result our food is higher in calories and lower in nutrition than ever before. Too many of these processed foods trigger food addictions we find hard to resist. But because so much of our food is void of nutrition our bodies cry out for more nutrition even though we've already consumed too many calories. The result is an unhealthy appetite and we crave more and more food and find ourselves in worse and worse health. In lesson four we learn about the history of food, and more specifically, the history of what we've done wrong with our food.
Lesson Five: Putting It All Together
In the preceding lessons we've learned a lot and some of us may be wanting to try making some changes to our diets. But how to go about that? After all, “dieting” is painful, right? It is when we do it the same way we've always done it and using man's logic! But it need not be painful or difficult. In Lesson five we will learn some simple and effective tools that will make dietary change simple and painless. We'll learn why most “diets” fail and what to do instead. Jesus said “My yoke is easy, and my burden light.” A diet that honors Him is also one that satisfies our wants and needs better than our typical Western Diet of “more”. In this lesson I'll share some of my personal testimony regarding my own journey towards better health.
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