How Do We Eat Gelato To The Glory Of God?
Truth be told if a post on food appeared on a Christian blog several years ago. I probably would have skipped past it and unfairly labelled it as a pretentious article written by yuppie Christians. But the Bible takes the act of eating food seriously so we probably need to as well “So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God” (1 Cor 10:31 NIV). Therefore, through the simple act of eating and drinking, it’s possible for God’s glory to be magnified or minimised by the way we approach it.
Many of us are prone to separating worship to certain categories: Singing, Fasting, Evangelising and Tithing. Or we view the Christian walk as life underneath a suffering grey cloud.
I would make the case that worshippers are those that receive whatever God has given them with thanksgiving (1 Thess 5:18 NIV). And since eating is necessary for our day to day survival, can this activity be turned into a meaningful experience? Can we consume food more mindfully so as to give thanksgiving to God who created it all?
GOD HAS CREATED FOOD MORE TASTY THAT IT NEEDS TO BE
For some of us, we treat meal times as pit stops to fill our stomach and see food as mere survival fuel for the day. If food was made for that sole purpose then God could have just given us a box of Rice Krispies and expected us to live off that for the rest of our lives.
If we cut beyond our basic grocery and immerse ourselves into food culture, we realise that God has created an enriching world of taste and flavour. God created a world of complex flavour combinations and rich biodiversity to be discovered and enjoyed.
Do you remember your child’s first taste of strawberry ice cream? Do you remember the last “flavour explosive” meal you had?
Take a walk through your local farmers market and run your fingers through the shapes and smells of fresh produce. God created fresh blueberries, kiwis, aubergines and fennels and all have a unique flavour that we get to experience. Unfortunately, a cellophane-wrapped punnet of raspberries landing in our Tesco basket takes away this discovery. Often, seeing the packaged end product minimizes the value of God’s initial design and purpose.
God was very intentional about the creation of fruit at the beginning of time. Along with the sky and the stars: God created fruit for us “I give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the whole earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it. They will be yours for food” (Genesis 1:29 NIV) Since God was purposeful when he created fruit-bearing trees for our pleasure, we can respond in a thoughful manner by consuming it with appreciation. Because, when we take delight in what God’s created, he gets the glory.
Those who know me, know that I am a foodie. Travel often gives me the chance to sample the local cuisine and allow my taste buds to be tantalised and my palette to be touched by flavour combination I’ve never come across before. The fruity mix of grapefruit and rosemary flavoured cider or strawberry cheesecake mochi balls reminds me of the countless permutations of flavour combos. Consider the most delicious meal you’ve had – for me it was my first bite of charcoal grilled, lemongrass, melt-in-your mouth pork. Mouth-watering!
TASTING GOD AND TASTING HEAVEN
These meals pack pleasure into a morsel and give us a taste of heaven. This may sound like an overstatement but I don’t think it’s a stretch from how God desires us to feel about heaven and ultimately about himself.
God uses experiential language in the Bible to describe how we are to receive him. “Taste and see that the Lord is good” (Psalm 34:8 NIV). 18th century theologian Jonathon Edwards puts it well…
“Thus there is a difference between having an opinion, that God is holy and gracious, and having a sense of the loveliness and beauty of that holiness and grace. There is a difference between having a rational judgment that honey is sweet and having a sense of its sweetness”.
The level of enjoyment in our relationship with God is often proportional to our level of dependence on him. Food and Jesus are sources that we depend on for survival outside of ourselves. Which is why Jesus often uses bread to dramatise the sort of relationship we are to have with him. One of dependence and enjoyment.
Conversely, food also demonstrates the relationship Jesus has with us. Jesus used mealtimes as an opportunity to build community where the Pharisee and tax collectors dined with Jesus. This symbolises the God of grace who befriends the unlikeables and defies cultural expectation around a table. And whose final meal is one to be remembered forever.
THE FEAST OF ALL FEASTS
Perhaps this type of feasting is to illustrate the anticipated and impending banquet to come. Its foretaste gives us a window into heaven. As Jesus compares the Kingdom of Heaven to a wedding banquet where everyone is invited to a feast of oxen and fattened cattle (Matthew 22:2). And “Where on this mountain the Lord Almighty will prepare a feast of rich food for all peoples, a banquet of aged wine – the best meats and the finest of wines” (Isaiah 24:6).
Like the smell of your mum’s best-cooked oxtail and dumpling stew on a winter’s day, this biblical language evokes a sense of wanting and waiting for the best meal of all. There will be feasting in heaven, the only difference is we will have new heavenly bodies and no longer have stomachs. “Food is meant for the stomach and the stomach for food – and God will destroy both” (1 Corinthians 6:13).
What’s the purpose of food then if we no longer have stomachs? We can only conclude then that eating in heaven is simply for our pleasure and no longer something we depend on for survival.
Food is glorious and mealtimes are an event to look forward to. And when something is more delightful than it needs to be, it awakens us to an appreciation of a generous Father who gave us more than what is required.
THE GOD OF EXCESS
When God fed the 5000, he ensured everyone was satisfied. With the 7 baskets leftover, God illustrates the point that he is a God of excess which connects to the excess of His grace. This oversupply was a demonstration of his generosity more than it was a signal for the people to indulge. Thus, it’s possible for the excess of food or excess of God’s grace to be exploited. By this, we devalue the preciousness of this costly gift from God. Instead, we are to turn our attention back to praise and say something like this. “What heights of love, what depths of peace. When fears and still and striving cease. My comforter, my All in All“.
Food could have been bland fuel for the body but God gifted us with taste buds so we can taste how good it is and oh it tastes so good! All of this alerts us to the manifested beauty of God and like the view of the vast azure blue ocean – it causes us not to just respond in acknowledgement but in divine celebration and awe of the God that made it all.
Ann Ajet is the lead writer at Bread. When she’s not writing, she’s exploring street food markets in London with her husband and daughter.
Photo was taken by Ben Rosett.
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