I love trying new foods and restaurants, don’t you? Growing up, I was drawn to new flavors of Pop-Tarts and candy bars; as I became older, I sought out new restaurants and fast-food concoctions. In the news recently, we’ve seen people wait hours in line for a fast-food chain’s new chicken sandwich. Is there a difference between enjoying God’s creation and worshipping it? I believe there is a difference and, as Christians, finding that line is very important.
How do I interact with God’s creation without worshipping it? That is the question. In Romans 1, Paul clearly answers this difficult question. Speaking of unbelievers, he says in verse 19-20, “For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have clearly been perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made.” If we add this to Colossians 2:17, where Paul says physical things are “a shadow of the things to come, but the substance belongs to Christ,” we start to get the idea that creation exists to point us to higher things.
God’s creation isn’t the source of pleasure, but points to the source of our pleasure. On this topic of enjoying God’s creation, C.S. Lewis said, “One’s mind runs back up the sunbeam to the sun.” I dare say, we should see God’s providing, creative hand in a chicken sandwich – or any of His other creations. Remember, God doesn’t have to make food so available to us or make the food tasty, but He chooses to do both – especially so in the United States.
What if we miss God in the chicken sandwich? What if we get caught up in the taste and the texture of the creation and fail to see God? Paul offers this warning in verses 24-25: “Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshipped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen.” If you read the context of this passage, Paul is definitely referring to the worship of sexual lusts, but can’t we apply these principles of “dishonoring our bodies” to the worship of food? Many people worship sexual pleasure, believing it’s the ultimate thing to be experienced in this world, but don’t we also do the same with food? Paul is warning that, if we continue down this track, God will give us over to these out-of-control desires. In short, God will let us worship what we want to worship, be it lust or a chicken sandwich.
Later, in 1 Timothy 4:4, Paul plainly tells us how to appreciate God’s creation, explaining, “For everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving, for it is made holy by the word of God and prayer.” If you’ve ever had a dysfunctional relationship with food, as I have, approaching food with a thankful, God-honoring heart is the ultimate way to prevent food-worship and overeating. It’s difficult to binge on even your favorite foods when you’re eating not just for pleasure, but with God’s honor in mind.
Before you conclude that I’m down on enjoying pleasures – chicken sandwiches or whatever – I’d like to suggest that enjoying food while finding pleasure in God actually heightens our enjoyment of His creation – since that’s the purpose of all creation. When we don’t honor God in enjoying a creation, we’re actually violating the purpose of that thing, which causes all sorts of problems, as Romans 1 warns us. Remember, the presence of God never detracts from anything, but always adds.
Now that we see the importance of finding God in everything, let’s enjoy our chicken sandwiches, but enjoy our God even more.