Emma Tanner

A Work in Progress

Bread of Heaven

on May 10, 2013


I’ve been thinking a lot about food this week (some might say ‘nothing particularly unusual about that’, but that wouldn’t be very charitable). First of all, I started a new diet. The weight I managed to shift a few years back has been slowly starting to creep back on, and I now have two choices- buy more clothes or try to get back to a healthy weight again.  I promised myself when I got down to within my healthy BMI for the first time in 2008 that I wouldn’t buy any new clothes in a bigger size- rash, I know, but I can be very stubborn sometimes. Not wanting to renege on that, coupled with being a cheapskate, means I’m back on the wagon again.

Secondly, I became aware of a campaign running at the moment called ‘Live Below the Line.’ This campaign challenges people to only spend £1 a day on food and drink, for 5 days, to raise awareness (as well as money) for the 1.4 billion people around the world living in extreme poverty. I haven’t been doing this challenge myself, but have been following the efforts of some who have, for example Jack Monroe. I have been really impacted and humbled by how little so many people have to live on- including here in our own country. Another prominent movement at the moment is the Enough Food IF campaign, which is trying to get the G8 leaders to tackle the issue of global hunger at the summit next month. Over 150 organisations have signed up to this campaign- Christian, Jewish and Muslim as well as non faith-based groups- all coming together to make the point that the world produces enough food to feed all its inhabitants, if it was produced and distributed fairly.

These initiatives led me to realise that I needed a paradigm shift in my approach to food. I needed to look not just at what I was eating, but why.  Was I eating to meet a physical need? Sometimes. Was I eating for some other reason? Frequently. Boredom, comfort, gluttony…. take your pick. But I realised for the first time that, in a world where nearly one billion people go to bed hungry every night and two million children die from malnutrition every year, overeating is wrong. And according to the United Nations there are now more overweight people in the world than undernourished people! Is it me, or is that completely crazy?

I may be being controversial here, and I am talking first and foremost to myself- but I felt I needed to repent for all the times I have eaten more than I need. Why does no-one talk about this in our churches? Why is it socially acceptable to eat too much, but not to drink too much or smoke or do any number of other harmful things to our bodies? We have a God who prizes fairness and detests injustice, and when He looks down on obese children and on starving children, from His heavenly perspective just a stone’s throw away from each other, that must break His heart.

In God’s perfect timing, my Bible reading this week has included the story of one of Jesus’ most famous miracles- the feeding of 5000 people from one little boy’s packed lunch. Jesus’ teaching immediately after this event is what really struck me though:

Jesus answered, “You’ve come looking for me not because you saw God in my actions but because I fed you, filled your stomachs- and for free. Don’t waste your energy striving for perishable food like that. Work for the food that sticks with you, food that nourishes your lasting life, food the Son of Man provides. He and what he does are guaranteed by God the Father to last.” John 6:26-27

Jesus said, “I am the Bread of Life. The person who aligns with me hungers no more and thirsts no more, ever.” John 6:35.

Food can become just one other thing we use to fill the hole inside us that is Jesus-shaped. If we are looking to it to provide us with the comfort that only He can provide, we will be disappointed. I understand that this is a complex issue. I know that my eating less will not directly and immediately improve the situation for children going to bed hungry on the other side of the world (or, increasingly commonly, on the other side of my town). But I really believe that if we want to change the world, we have to start with ourselves. So I’m going to give it my best shot.


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