This is the brief blog article to accompany the podcast of the same title, below.
City of Temples is our weekly teaching series through the book of 1 Corinthians and today we finish chapter 10.
The podcast this week is slightly longer than usual because, towards the end, it was right to include a word of testimony regarding a health struggle that has gotten particularly difficult over the last year or so.
He must increase; I must decrease.
I’ve often wondered why we’re specifically told what John the Baptist ate. We know Jesus ate broiled fish after being raised but why are we told specifically John’s dietary menu?
Part of the reason, I think, is that we find it hard to imagine there ever being any idolatrous stronghold in John’s life as regards to food – can you imagine John over-eating on locusts?!
As we’ve moved through these last few months – from the beginning of chapter 8 to this culmination at the end of chapter 10 – I’ve wanted to come before Him with an open-mindedness that I might need to hear or see something in myself as I have potentially idolised food.
As I have walked the streets of Corinth throughout the last year, I’ve increasingly wanted four main things: to be a more joyful/bold witness; to be free from all idolatry; to glorify Yahweh; to see the Church prepared for His coming.
I think the truth is that our world is soaked in gluttony and it impacts us all.
As I mention in the podcast, the other day I was watching Masterchef, (a very popular TV programme in the UK) and I started to realise in a new way how much our society and culture is geared towards and revolves around food.
How much does this direct my heart personally? How much of “recreation” is geared towards excessive, addictive culinary strongholds?
So much of this seems innocent because it’s absolutely right that we eat and drink to the glory of God (1 Corinthians 10:31). He has given us the beautiful gifts of food and drink, including alcohol, pigs and prawns.
But I know that as I have been forced to make radical adjustments to my eating patterns on health grounds, my main question has not been, “have I been abusing my body/His temple…?” (see 1 Corinthians 6) but, rather, “have I been provoking the LORD to jealousy?” (see 1 Corinthians 10:22).
Of course, both questions legitimately stand.
When I used to go to the chocolate/sweet aisle at Morrisons to choose some sweet confectionery, was I entertaining demons? Was I somehow idolising sugary treats to bring the comfort and joy that only He can bring? Was I somehow replacing the satisfaction of God’s love with food that gave me a temporary physical/emotional kick?
Brothers, join in imitating me, and keep your eyes on those who walk according to the example you have in us. For many, of whom I have often told you and now tell you even with tears, walk as enemies of the cross of Christ. Their end is destruction, their god is their belly, and they glory in their shame, with minds set on earthly things.Philippinas 3: 17-19
Taste & See that the LORD is Good
We must tread carefully here because sometimes there is a fine line between good and evil and there was certain error with both the Libertines and the Rigorists in Corinth.
It’s right that we enjoy food and drink (including chocolate and sweets) as the gifts that they are from a good, loving Saviour. But as we approach The Lord’s table in the next few weeks in chapter 11, we would do well to review our relationship with food and drink, especially as we think about the return of Jesus.
We can also end up idolising diets and regimented ways of eating etc that aren’t glorifying God either; six-packs can be gods as well as bulbous bellies of obesity. Physical training is of some value but godliness has value for all things, (1 Timothy 4:8).
Christian family might occasionally help but, ultimately, it is only the Holy Spirit Who enables us to discern what’s going on in our hearts, who enables us to truly know whether our consciences are dictating us in error or not.
We need the gift of desperation so that we are willing to ask Him to show us whatever we must see of ourselves in order to be faithful.
It is a profound comfort that He knows what’s happening in each of us, even when we don’t, but I have certainly come to acknowledge that my emotional connection with food wasn’t/isn’t as it should be.
I’m at an early stage of exploring this in prayer but it seems very relevant to mention this now as we finish this section on food offered to idols.
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