But, something about that word felt– too heavy. I’m a little shy to admit that. Sin is sin is sin, but food and trying to lose weight, are they really that bad?
I skirted this issue for years. And, I suspect it’s why threads of struggle still cut off some of my spiritual circulation.
No doubt this glossing over the weight of idolatry is a ploy of the enemy. Because, when we avoid eye contact with the reality of our idols, we don’t feel the conviction that leads to repentance and freedom. Rather, condemnation cozies up to us and tells us we’re too whatever and we need to fix our problems before we approach God. And, in doing so, we’re sunk.
In this post, we’re going to dig into idolatry with our grace-colored glasses. We’ll uncover why admitting our defeat is actually the solution to moving on to greater food freedom.
WHAT IS THE IDOLATRY OF FOOD?
Imagine you’re sitting on the couch after a long, emotionally exhausting day. You’re curled up in the corner with your eyes glued to the TV, completely unaware of the spoon moving from the almost gone pint of caramel cookie ice cream to your taste bud frozen mouth.
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You’re trying to manage, to soothe yourself before you explode, but your M.O. is one that stings like a hornet’s nest the next day.
If you’re like me, you believe that Christ is in us and with us and that He wants to be intimately involved in our lives…
So, imagine Christ, the Comforter, the One who holds the keys to death and hell (kinda what you’re feeling like right now), sits beside you on the middle couch cushion.
Like a parent restrained from rescuing a drowning child, He waves His arms to help but you can’t see Him. Your idols have captured your gaze and left you to drown.
Deuteronomy 4 documents the relationship between Israel and idols. After God’s chosen people strayed, they would “worship man-made gods of wood and stone, which cannot see or hear or eat or smell” (v28).
Paul tells us, “Do not be idolaters, as some of them were [the Israelites]; as it is written: “The people sat down to eat and drink and got up to indulge in revelry.” (1 Corinthians 10:7 NIV)
Idolatry is putting something, anything, before God. It’s giving time, affection, space, and worship to the created and not the Creator. This really hits home when we’re talking about preparing food.
WHY DOES IDOLIZING FOOD MATTER?
Are you a great rationalizer like I am? We are expert lawyers when it comes to defending our actions. We create smokescreens that protect our idols, AND they’re really convincing!
It’s chocolate cake and not crack…
I just want to “feel good about myself,” not a crime. …
Why does eating too much even matter to God?
I mean, don’t they serve donuts at church? Surely, it’s not that big of a deal.
Why should we care about idolizing food so much? Because your quest for freedom relies on it.
Jonah 2:8 NIV 1984 says “Those who cling to worthless idols forfeit the grace that could be theirs.” When we put food or weight or anything for that matter before God, we’re missing out on all He has for our lives.
When we’re struggling to be free, what we NEED is His help. But, in our idolatry, we abandon it.
My people have committed two sins: They have forsaken me, the spring of living water, and have dug their own cisterns, broken cisterns that cannot hold water. Jeremiah 2:13 NIV
Now, don’t get me wrong. I fully believe that God will reach down and help us no matter how dirty our pit. However, we can’t ignore the fact that unrepentant idolatry is not something He looks over. It is important to identify idols.
IDOLATRY IN ACTION
Isaiah 44:9-20 talks about the foolishness of idols. I used to consider it a hard read but, through God’s grace, I can see the humor in it. It’s as if I’m watching an episode of Looney Tunes where Wile E. Coyote continues to chase the roadrunner even after he’s been smashed by a boulder half a dozen times.
Who but a fool would make his own god— an idol that cannot help him one bit?
Then the wood-carver measures a block of wood and draws a pattern on it. He burns part of the tree to roast his meat and to keep himself warm. He says, “Ah, that fire feels good.”
Then he takes what’s left and makes his god: a carved idol! He falls down in front of it, worshiping and praying to it. “Rescue me!” he says. “You are my god!” Such stupidity and ignorance!
The person who made the idol never stops to reflect, “Why, it’s just a block of wood! I burned half of it for heat and used it to bake my bread and roast my meat. How can the rest of it be a god? Should I bow down to worship a piece of wood?” (Isaiah 44:10, 13a, 16-18a, 19 NLT).
Now, you’ve probably never bowed down to a Cinnabon. And, I bet the mere thought of worshipping a false god makes your stomach curdle and your heart sink. I’d like to think that I’d refuse to do so, even unto death. That’s how much I believe in our God.
And, yet, even if we don’t bow down to our idols physically, we often do so in our actions.
Have you ever:
- Spent money you don’t have to cook food you don’t need?
- Ignored a child’s need because you had a date with your food?
- Avoided an event you knew God was calling you to because you were embarrassed by your body? (i.e. weight loss idol)
These three are all examples from my own life and they scream that my food and my fitness are more important to me than my Father. In essence, I am bowing down to my pride and selfish desires.
That, my friend, is idolatry in a nutshell.
GRACE IN ITS PLACE
Before we go any further, I’d like us to pull over for a water stop. This message feels hard and heavy and– it is. But there is a vast divide between conviction and condemnation.
Condemnation is from the enemy and it makes you feel like a dog that’s been caught chewing the new coffee table. You slink off with your tail between your legs, hoping you can dig yourself a hole in the utility closet and stay undetected.
Condemnation is from the enemy and it puts a wedge between us and God. It says you’re too far gone, you may as well give up.
But conviction, oh my sister, conviction is sweet. Yes, it does sting, but that sting is quickly soothed by our gracious God. You see, it’s the goodness of God that leads to repentance (Romans 2:4). Embracing God is the first step in repentance.
When we accept that conviction and respond accordingly, we get to lock arms with the Holy Spirit and get to work to eliminate idols.
So, keep your head UP. He wants to set you free!
WHAT TO DO ABOUT FOOD + IDOLATRY
So now that we’ve hung out in the woodshed for a bit, what’s next? What do we actually do with the knowledge and admission that we’re honoring food Baals?
Well, this is where it gets G-O-O-D!
He drew me up from the pit of destruction, out of the miry bog, and set my feet upon a rock, making my steps secure. Psalm 40:2 ESV
Our best first step is to spend some time alone with God and talk to Him (pray) about our wayward heart and agree with Him that something needs to change (repent). Then, commit to walking the other direction.
God will steady us as we walk forward with this new revelation. While chances are He won’t instantaneously wipe away our idolatrous hearts, He will strengthen our desire to be obedient.
And, when you feel tempted to give in– picture yourself with Daniel who was commanded to bow down and worship a statue of King Nebuchadnezzar. He refused because He could not stomach the thought. And you can do the same.
Brandice Lardner is a Certified Personal Trainer, Nutrition Coach, Author, and Jesus Girl whose mission in life is to help women ditch the diet mentality and find peace with food and their bodies so that they are better equipped to do the great things God has called them to do.