Body, Mind & Spirit

Food has always been important in the church. Through food we encounter not only a deeper connection with each other, but also with God – the Giver of sustenance and life. I suppose this is why congregations still have pitch-in dinners (although these are not as commonplace as they once were), and why meals represent special social occasions in the church.

Of course, The Lord’s Supper is a spiritual meal – simple as it is – but profound in its implications for community, forgiveness and acceptance. Through bread and cup, we commune with God and experience again the gift of salvation and grace.

In our time, food has become the subject of much discussion and debate. Schools and parents debate the value of food served in lunch lines: Is the food healthy? Is it too caloric? Is there a better alternative? Increasingly, we are aware of how our diets impact our overall health: Do we eat too much? Do we consume enough fresh fruits and vegetables? Can we change our diet and change our health?

Recently, I perused bookstore shelves and the Internet stores in search of dieting books. I was amazed at how many titles had taken up a biblical theme. I found, for example, The Bible Diet, The Maker’s Diet, What Would Jesus Eat? and The Jesus Cookbook, among others. I didn’t have the gumption to search for titles like The Prophet Elijah Diet (heavy on roasted crow, I suppose) or The John the Baptist Cookbook (locust and honey recipes) or The Apostle Paul Cookbook (non-kosher recipes that can be eaten on the move). I’m not sure what all of these books espouse in terms of cooking and cuisine, but the general theme would seem to be eating more fresh foods, consuming fewer calories, and eating the types of roots and berries that Jesus would have gathered as he walked along the dusty roads of Galilee.

I’m still working on my diet. I’m trying to improve. But there may indeed be some dieting lessons to be discovered in the Bible.

As simple as The Lord’s Supper is, or even John Wesley’s adaptation of the Agape meal with bread and water, there is room for simplicity in our cupboards. As we continue to learn, simple foods (basic and unprocessed) are the best for us. We don’t need much food to satisfy our bodies’ requirements – and in the simplicity of our diets, we also can discover a greater abundance and sharing of our resources to meet the world’s needs.

I’m not going to go out any time soon and purchase The Jonah Cookbook (fish and whale recipes for the busy evangelist) or The Abraham and Sarah Diet (patty cakes and tortilla recipes for unexpected guests), but I hope to continue to adapt my diet so that I can be a healthier me.

Todd Outcalt is the senior pastor at Calvary in Brownsburg and the author of twenty books published in five languages. His latest book, The Ultimate Christian Living, was published in March by Health Communications, and includes essays by or about Rick Warren, Max Lucado, Billy Graham, Linda McCoy, Kent Millard, and Bishop Will Willimon, among others.

There is room for simplicity in our cupboards.