I like food. I like to prepare it and I like to eat it.
But I also recognize that certain attitudes toward food can be stumbling blocks. The first of the Ten Commandments states, "Thou shalt have no other gods before me" (Ex. 20:3). These "other gods" can include food. The "me," of course, is the one God, the divine Spirit.
With the First Commandment, God confirmed for humanity that the primary source of good, of joy, is the spiritual. Material forms of "worship" can be destructive. Drug addiction, for example. It creates a wrong sense of satisfaction that turns a person away from God. Craving food and eating it gluttonously can have the same effect.
But I've found we can go to the table not to satisfy insatiable cravings or to find the ultimate joy, but instead to see one evidence of the fact that God sustains us and takes care of every human need.
A couple of years ago, I was having regular bouts of indigestion, even to the point of waking up at night with severe abdominal pains. I was beginning to recognize that the problem was related to my overly aggressive approach to eating.
After one meal, I thought of the following statement made by Mary Baker Eddy, the founder of the Monitor: "The loss of gustatory enjoyment and the ills of indigestion tend to rebuke appetite and destroy the peace of a false sense" ("Miscellaneous Writings," Pg. 209). Mrs. Eddy was commenting at that point on the fact that one's obedience to the good will of God brings more health and balance to human existence. With the message of this statement, I realized that my approach to eating had to change - and not just to avoid abdominal pains. If I really wanted God in my life, then here was another way, an important one, that I needed to go about putting Spirit first. I needed to understand the nature of God, my perfect relationship to Him, and my ability to do His will.
Since then I have tried to begin a meal by reminding myself that while it is normal to enjoy food, it is only Spirit that truly satisfies and sustains me. And I have finished the meal remembering this approach to eating. As a result, I have a much different attitude at mealtime, and the abdominal pains have stopped.
We all eat every day, and since our state of thought is crucial to health, our thought about any activity has health consequences. Our thought about eating should be based on an understanding of who we really are. Because you are spiritual - made in the good nature of God - you're actually sustained by Spirit and under the divine care of Spirit. "The fact is, food does not affect the absolute Life of man, and this becomes self-evident, when we learn that God is our Life" (Eddy, "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," Pg. 388).
We can enjoy a meal, and see in it God's care for us - a representation of our divine sustenance. Yet we can take care not to give eating another purpose by looking to it for comfort or satisfaction, or as a distraction.
Some people say we should be more careful of what we eat. But just as important as nutritious food is a healthier concept of eating. With great care for the health and well-being of mankind, Christ Jesus said, "Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on" (Matt. 6:25). Couldn't this imply that constantly thinking of matter (rather than divine Spirit) as our source of sustenance won't be fulfilling, regardless of how much we consume?
Mealtime can be a time for appreciating the art of food preparation and the refreshment of dining. In every case, a tangible grasp of God's love will sustain and satisfy us today more than anything else can.
Take no thought, saying,
What shall we eat? or, What shall
we drink? or, Wherewithal shall
we be clothed?... for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have
need of all these things. But seek
ye first the kingdom of God,
and his righteousness; and all
these things shall be
added unto you.