Food is one of the most basic pleasures in life. It’s something we both need and also enjoy. But for as elemental as food is to the human experience, it can be so much more spiritually. Food is part of God’s plan for us and can be a powerful way to connect with the Lord and reflect on His blessings.
One of the tragedies of the original sin that often goes unnoticed isn’t just that Adam and Eve gave into temptation when they ate the forbidden fruit, they also turned their nose up on everything else God gave them. God created wonders beyond imagining for them, as it says in Genesis 1:29
"Then God said, "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. And to all the beasts of the earth and all the birds in the sky and all the creatures that move along the ground—everything that has the breath of life in it—I give every green plant for food.” And it was so.”
But they did not appreciate that bounty. We can learn from their mistake. God intentionally created the world to support a wonderful variety of food for us to enjoy and we can celebrate Him and His creation by taking the time to fully appreciate what we have. Here are some ways to glorify God when preparing, enjoying, and cultivating food.
Gather around the table
The most obvious way to appreciate what God has given us is to give thanks. Prayer before dinner is a traditional and perfect way to honor the blessing God has given us. But there are more ways to bring worship to a meal. One great way is to practice hospitality and charity at the table.
Everybody appreciates a meal, so invite them over. Next time you’re grilling up burgers on the BBQ, ask your neighbor if he would like one. Know an elderly person who doesn’t get out as much as they used to? Have them over for lunch, they’ll be nourished by more than the food you offer them. Call up an old friend and let them know you still care with a homemade dish.
As we finally emerge from our COVID fear and isolation, now is the time to redefine how you want to live in this world and interact with people. I can’t think of anything more beautiful than becoming a home of warm laughter and meals. When we welcome others into our home, share our blessings with them asking nothing in return, and reflect the values of a Christian life in our actions we worship the Lord.
Reflect on your blessings
Another way to worship the Lord with food is to simply be mindful of it. Food is one of the most essential things in life, in it’s absence it is the most important thing. But in the West, we often take it for granted. I’ll spare us the typical lecture, but it’s true, most of us live very fortunate lives where we’re able to eat the food we like regularly without worry. Just a quick trip the grocery store and you’re set for the week.
So, let’s slow things down. Next time you’re shopping the produce aisle, take a moment to think on how those apples got there in the first place. Every apple comes from a tree that was planted as a small sapling years ago. It was tended to and made a part of an orchard. Men and women working that orchard harvested that apple, collected it, packaged it, and prepared it to be shipped to a store. Every single piece of fruit, every vegetable, every cut of meat on the shelf has a similar story. One of nature and cooperation, and many hands making things possible. It’s a miracle to live in a world where we are able to have so much and are able to enjoy such access to God’s gifts.
And such a variety of gifts! Not only should you take the time to reflect on what God has given us, we should actively seek out His blessings! There are so many different types of food out there to try, so many ingredients, cuisines, and different preparations. It is a joyous thing to sample God’s creation, so be bold and try new things. Try food from a different culture, be receptive to a new spin on an old favorite, share recipes with your friends and expand your repertoire. It’s all part of God’s creation, the abundance He has gifted his children with, embrace it with gratitude.
Speaking of the work involved in food, try growing some yourself. Planting, maintaining, and eventually harvesting a small vegetable garden can be an immensely spiritually fulfilling act. Seeing the beauty of nature unfold in your own backyard is bracing, and the act mirrors the care God has put into us. Every step of the process, from preparing good soil with fertilizer, to planting tiny seeds or plants, to tending to them regularly to keep them well watered, pruned, and pest free, takes love and faith. It might not seem like much, but even a small garden with a few of your favorite ingredients (some tomatoes, onions, a few peppers, some herbs) helps not only to put the work behind the food we enjoy into perspective, it can draw you closer to God spiritually. Carefully tending to His gifts and watching them return 10 fold - the spiritual life in microcosm.
This is something we can all do, even if you live in an apartment or condo and don’t have a yard you can plant in. A window box with a few herbs you use regularly can be enough. It is such a simple joy to pluck a few leaves of basil from the window sill to sprinkle into a soup you’re making, or to pick a sprig of thyme to give your chicken that little bit of extra flavor that makes it special. It’s good to remember that food doesn’t come from plastic packages with focus group approved logos and slogans. It comes from nature, God provides it all.
Stay mindful of the blessings God has provided for us, grateful for all we can enjoy, and ready to share that joy with others, and food can be a wonderfully spiritual part of your life.