When Food Replaces God
by Janet K. Brown
The National Health and Nutrition Survey in 2004 tells us 133.6 million (66%) adult Americans are obese or overweight. A Purdue University study indicates conservative churches such as southern Baptists, Assembly of God, and Church of God fight this battle more often. Richard Kreider of Baylor University gives further insight into this. These denominations “avoid dancing, tobacco and alcohol, but give no guidelines for overeating.” He goes on to say our churches more often attract with food, not action events.
Recently, a guest preacher came to our church. I’ve heard him speak before, and he’s truly a man of God, but he resembles a bowling ball with legs. This last time he came, he told us of his heart problems and the need to watch his food intake. His wake-up call might save his life and could strengthen his witness for Christ.
Every event in church involves eating whether it’s a pot-luck or refreshment for a meeting. Family celebrations involve food. This picture shows my two grandsons waiting for their Mexican food at the birthday dinner for their aunt.
Food controlled me for thirty years. I lost and gained hundreds of pounds but remained overweight most of the time. Twenty years ago, God started teaching me that I put food in place of Him.
I lost ninety-five pounds and have maintained the loss for seventeen years. I eat more satisfying food, just regular food, no diet stuff. Deciding on one dish in preference of another is a choice I make with God’s help. The biggest secret to my success was giving up my will and letting God do it through me.
One tool in my recovery remains the daily reading of the Bible and other inspirational books. I wrote a book of daily devotions that came from my journals and memories. The book, released in December, 2012, is titled Divine Dining: 365 Devotions to Guide You to Healthier Weight and Abundant Wellness.
Here’s one of the devotions:
“I put this in human terms: because you are weak in your natural selves, just as you used to offer the parts of your body in slavery to impurity and to ever-increasing wickedness, so now offer them in slavery to righteousness leading in holiness.” Romans 6:19 NIV
In America, we raise independent children. We want them to stand on their own feet. We shudder at the thought of being a slave to anyone or anything. American history demonstrates a change in our policies as we set about to create a free country. After the civil war, black Americans were freed from slavery. Later, we gave women equal rights to vote and hold office. “We, the people,” wish freedom for all.
This independent spirit can backfire. Our stiff-necked thinking refuses to be dependent even on God. For compulsive overeaters, following our wills can lead to extra pounds and ultimately, death.
What is God saying through Paul in the above verse? Who was God calling slaves? His audience was not all people owned by another person.
Webster’s definition of slave – One dominated by other’s influence
Many things dominate our lives, some bad, but many good. If we make a list of possible capturers or things that enslave, it might include: drugs, alcohol, smoking, overeating food or avoidance of food, work, fishing, golf, football, luxury home, automobile, sex, movies, dancing, a person, even church work.
Anything we put on the throne of our hearts in place of God, anything we devote our time and attention to, anything influencing our thoughts and behaviors, to that we become slaves. As the Scripture says, “we are weak.”
If you don’t stand for something, you’ll fall for anything.
R. O. Thornton (my dad)
Prayer: Lord, make me Your slave today.
Janet K. Brown lives in Wichita Falls, Texas, with her husband, Charles. Though she has written most of her adult life, since her retirement as a bookkeeper and medical coder, she writes as a second career and as a ministry.
She and her husband love to travel with their RV, visit their three daughters, two sons-in-law and three grandchildren, and work in their church.