Yet, still, I do not get it. But I know I am not the only one.
A few weeks ago, a friend of mine e-mailed a prayer request about her daughter, who had apparently told her she needed to go on a diet because she was fat. She is 5!
Yesterday, I met a woman who could barely walk, partially crippled under 300lbs of excess weight.
And, today, I heard a woman quietly making herself vomit in the bathroom at work.
Three different situations…one common “enemy”…food.
I can’t begin to speculate as to the reasons behind each struggle, because I have no clue as to the origin of my own. But I do think that scripture touches on something that may give some direction on this issue.
In chapter 3 of Philippians, Paul is talking about believers who have fallen away and uses the following illustration: …their god is their belly, and they glory in their shame, with minds set on earthly things. (Philippians 3:19)
Their god is their belly...
That is a rather odd statement. It has always struck me as such, but today when I read it, it seemed to make a bit more sense to me. In the OT, Joshua challenged the Israelites (and us) to “Choose this day whom you will serve…” In the NT, we are told we “can not serve God and mammon.” It seems clear that there are two choices – God or NOT God, i.e., Satan. The NOT God choice may take on many different forms, but if it isn’t God, it isn’t God and that means it can only be one other entity. As Jesus said, “You are either for me or against me.” In this case, the NOT God is the belly…or the appetites. That can differ for each of us, depending on what it is we crave and how we have gone about satisfying that craving. In my case, I chose to satisfy my cravings (for what I still am not sure) with food…as did my new 400+ pound friend…and to a degree the lady in the bathroom stall. But why?
They glory in their shame…
Secrets have a way of controlling us, don’t they? Especially when they are our secrets. We will do almost anything to keep them, and it has been my experience that that often means continuing in the shameful thing we do not want known, because to stop might mean coming clean. It also means giving up that tiny period of time when the world is just about us and what we want. I think there is also something innately in us that does indeed glory in our shame, in the carnal, base facets of our fleshly nature, and an equal part that fights to keep it intact, keep it fed, and keep it hidden from everyone. Whether it is secretly gorging oneself with abandon or making yourself vomit so you can eat whatever you like and remain thin, each has the appeal of a guilty, secret pleasure. Both are difficult to give up, though, possibly for very different reasons.
With minds set on earthly things...
This ties into “their god is their belly”…at least in my mind. To have one’s mind set on earthly things, is to have it NOT set on godly things…or at the very least to have earthly rather than godly things of first importance. It is easy to make one’s belly or appetites god when one’s mind is set on the temporal, when what is of first importance is what pertains to, affects and satisfies the flesh.
It doesn’t matter if that looks like an obese person stuffing herself silly because it takes her mind off of past, present and possible hurts or an anorexic refusing to eat because she worries that people see her as fat or a someone who has decided the best way to maintain her figure is to vomit up every other meal. The gaze is what is important, the mindset, the direction of the heart.
So maybe it doesn’t really matter why food seems to be the vehicle for so much sin…because in reality it is likely no greater a vehicle for sin than sex or alcohol or television viewing or ungodly speech. I guess, like what the Lord showed me this week, it is all about seeking. When we aren’t seeking Him, our cravings will turn to that which look upon, can touch, feel, consume and control.
But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory
through our Lord Jesus Christ.