Joyce and I were driving down Washington Road which is the main artery in Evans, Georgia, near our home. Within any mile on Washington Road are all kinds of enticing places to eat calling me. There’s Bojangles with their chicken and biscuit. There’s a down home restaurant with its fried pork tenderloin smothered in heavy sawmill gravy, our favorite Mexican restaurant, 5 Guys Hamburgers and Fries, and Brusters yummy ice cream. You get the picture. It’s hard not to stop at one of these altars now and worship there especially when I’m hungry. However, when I do stop now at the Mexican restaurant or 5 Guys, it’s a planned visit. I know what I’m going to order and the small portion size I’m going to eat. The others, I do not stop at any longer. Victory!
How does food become our American idol? An idol is anything that replaces our sole devotion to the Lord. There are many. Food, work, hobbies, pleasure seeking, sports, and television are just a few. I once was addicted to news programs and debates about current issues. They kind of numbed my senses as did food. I especially turned to them when I was in a depressed state.
We protect ourselves from emotional hurt by turning to addictions like food. But addictions of any kind always create more pain. There are always unpleasant consequences like gaining weight and becoming obese like I did.
I allowed myself to have pity parties and become depressed because people had hurt me. I felt rejected and lonely. Food can’t hurt me. People do. So out of my apathy and pain, I turned to food. Food can’t hurt me like people do so I thought.
All idols kill emotions including the food idol. They have eyes but cannot see. They are dead, and idols deaden us emotionally. We are not even aware of it unless the Spirit wakes us from our slumber like He did me about my obesity.
We turn again and again to our addiction idols like food for comfort and security in times of stress or emotional pain often without even realizing what we are doing because we are emotionally dead.
When that happens, food controls us rather than us controlling food. It makes us feel protected or safe from harm. It makes us less worried, upset, or frightened, during times of trouble and trials. No wonder they it comfort food.
When we look to food and eat in such times to fill our love hungry soul food, food becomes our god and our god defines who our identity and determines how we treat or parent ourselves. In other words, we turn to food for comfort like a hurting child turns to the care of his mother.
But, a full belly doesn’t make a full soul. The Apostle Paul observed. “Their god is their stomach” (Philippians 3:19). Some were trying to fill their soul with food. Food never satisfies the longing of our soul. Only Christ, the Bread of Life, has the power to satisfy our deepest emotional and spiritual needs and fill the emptiness with Himself in a love relationship with Him.
We need the nourishment that healthy food provides our body. We need it to make the hormones released by our brain like serotonin and dopamine to function properly and feel good. Too much food throws them out of whack and increases our cravings.
And, we need the spiritual nourishment from the Lord to fill and satisfy our soul and emotions. So, let us “take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:5). When our soul is satisfied with Christ in us, we not longer have to impulsively stop and worship at the idols found along Washington Road. It’s a liberating feeling!