One of my favourite activities is to flick through recipe books and gawp at the pictures of delicious meals inside, and drooling. Sometimes I make the recipes pictured but usually I just gaze at the photographs and fantasise about eating them. This activity is generally known as food porn. I was thinking about this and wondering if the phrase was unhelpful.
The conclusion I came to was that actually the phrase is very apt and actually quite helpful. Lusting after food porn, like sex porn, is a solitary activity, it is unfruitful, and it is ultimately unsatisfying. It gives you a quick rush of pleasure and makes you feel good in the moment, but it’s never going to fill you up.
You may have noticed that Stuart and I love food. We love to cook food, we love to talk about food and we love to share food with others. Over the last two nights we have had friends over for dinner, yesterday I went out for lunch with a friend and today we are going to have a big lunch at church with our community group. Eating food is a social activity. People chat over food, and can share things that they often would not otherwise. Mealtime is a fantastic time to share stories, as we certainly discovered last night!
Community groups in our church are small(ish) groups of the churchgoers who live in a similar area, and we meet once a week to pray, study the Bible together and to reach out to those in the community around us. We always do this over tea (and often cake), as these are the motor oil of a good meeting, they help things to run smoothly. We also eat a meal together often, and invite other folk who live nearby. People are comfortable to come to this, as gathering for lunch is a family thing to do, and we make many new friends this way.
Jesus recognised this and used food greatly in his ministry. Think about it: water into wine, the feeding of the 5,000(ish), eating at the house of a tax collector, the last supper… so much of Jesus’ ministry took place over meals, because he saw how it brings people together and allows them to open up. Yes, we need food to survive, but God graciously made food both delicious and social. He could have provided us with one simple plant that provided all our nourishment and required no preparation. But He didn’t, he lets us choose our food (in countries where we are blessed enough to have it aplenty), He lets us prepare it, heat it, mix it up, and share it together.
What Jesus came to do is to die on the cross to take our sins upon himself and make us right with God the Father. The night before he did this, he took some wine and some bread and said, “This is my body, given for you. This is my blood, shed for you. Eat and drink in remembrance of me.” So, when we gather as a church family, we gather round the family table and share some bread and some wine together. The bread and the wine are just normal bread and wine (in fact, I suspect the wine is actually Ribena), but when we eat and drink we remember that Jesus has died for us. We break the bread once more and are thankful that he has allowed us to be forgiven.
Food is special, and I believe that the Bible commands us to enjoy it and share it together well – how joyful!