Freedom from food fears

A Christian Science perspective.

Will it be fast food or slow food tonight? Do we go all-organic or buy the less expensive ordinary varieties? Or of even greater concern these days, is the food we're preparing pure or contaminated?

Granted, because food is a primary human need, there's a measure of wisdom in the counsel, "Watch what you eat." Could there be an even higher wisdom, though, in watching what you think about what you eat? It's entirely possible that far more people suffer from fears associated with their food than from the food itself. If these fears can be alleviated through spiritual awakening and the wisdom that comes with spiritual progress, then what are the first steps toward freedom?

Step one might be termed simply "know the truth," as in the well-known counsel Christ Jesus gave: "Ye shall know the truth" – in this case, the truth about the nature of life itself and what sustains life – "and the truth shall make you free" (John 8:32). In the few words that precede that statement, however, Jesus offered an important precondition to knowing what is true. He said, according to the New English Bible's translation, that "if you dwell within the revelation I have brought," then you truly are Christ's follower, and you'll know the truth – the spiritual fact – of any challenge that confronts you. Fear can't resist the dawning of spiritual discernment, any more than darkness can resist the sun's appearance at daybreak.

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This Christ-revelation, as Mary Baker Eddy discovered over a century ago, centers on the nature of God as the one loving and universal Parent; that God is the source of good and not evil, of health and not illness, of life and not death. Moreover, Jesus revealed in his own life the indestructible solidity of life in Spirit, and the insubstantial nature of all that is mortal and material, illness and death included. His life – and his dominion over all that makes people afraid – is not a one-off exception, but the rule for anyone who grasps something of the revelation and allows it to inform their thoughts and decisions.

A second step toward freedom from food-related anxieties involves putting into practice some basic precepts from Jesus' teachings – words that become more than mere "wisdom sayings" when they're understood as expressive of a divine Science, or the laws embedded in having one God and treating others as we would like to be treated.

Consider, for instance, Jesus' counsel to "take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat" (Luke 12:22). Instead of promoting an "ignorance is bliss" policy, his words literally mean, "Don't be anxious or troubled with cares about what you eat." Don't allow food or compulsive concern about it to define you. By extension, don't believe that life's inspiration, strength, or lasting satisfaction can be found in any form of matter. And ultimately, don't believe that what God gives to sustain life can also destroy life.

Along with God's supply of humanity's "daily bread" naturally comes the insight to make good choices and the self-control to avoid bingeing or thinking obsessively in general or specific ways about food.

The Bible also addresses anxieties about food cleanliness. Religious rather than strictly hygienic concerns prompted Jesus' critics to complain about the eating habits of his followers. The critics were concerned about surface impurity, however, and Jesus about spiritual and moral contamination. "You are so careful to clean the outside of the cup and dish," he said very pointedly, "but inside you are filthy – full of greed and self-indulgence!" (Matt. 23:25, New Living Translation).

Prayer for food safety can and should extend to the whole human family and everyone along the farm-to-family table chain, including those who grow the spinach and produce the peanut butter. The spiritual fact is that conscience and care for others' welfare are innate to every God-created being; whatever is dimly motivated eventually must be corrected.

The world faces challenges concerning food on a scale beyond the anxieties that trouble many individuals and families – such as the hundreds of millions in both developing and industrialized countries who don't have enough to eat. Again, wherever lack of resources appears, it's thinking that first needs to change. End the famine of ideas, of inspiration, of affections, and we'll find new means to feed a hungry world in all ways.

Looking ahead to spiritual advancement around the globe, Mary Baker Eddy wrote, "Christ, Truth, gives mortals temporary food and clothing until the material, transformed with the ideal, disappears, and man is clothed and fed spiritually" ("Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," p. 442). With a tender love that envelops all creation, God is showing, through the already revealed law of the Christ, the way to freedom from all earth's fears. There couldn't be a more basic human need.

Reprinted editorial from the Christian Science Sentinel.

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