Gluttony for God

I love food. Sometimes, in a VERY unfortunately way, I’m pretty sure eating good food makes me happy. This past Saturday evening, I went to Randy’s All American Grill in Greeley, CO to watch football. Hungry—and willing to try anything—I ordered the Brian Gary Burger. Here’s the description from Randy’s menu:

Big and beefy, nuts and cheesy, just like Brian! Start with our famous bacon double cheeseburger; add three mozzarella sticks and rocky mountain oysters. Perfection!

It was perfection. No one who knew me as a child would’ve thought that Shawn Vander Lugt could scarf down a half-pound of ground beef, a quarter-pound of bacon, all topped off with cheesy testicles. MMMM….DELICIOSO!

My grandmother still remembers the comment I made when faced with a supper plate of delicious hamburgers. We had just arrived from my other grandmother’s house:

“But we had hamburgers for lunch!”

My mother still recalls my whining whenever I encountered pulp in my orange juice:

“But there’s stringy stuff in it! I don’t like juice with stringy stuff!”

My brother still recollects my gag reflex after eating fresh canned peaches and experiencing the hard crunchy stuff that surrounded the now absent pit:

“HUHLLUHH! HUULUHHCHH! HUUUUULUUUUCHHCH”

There were times where I really think I puked. I whined incessantly about food. I complained about peas, carrots, fish, mushy stuff, broccoli, cabbage, stringy stuff, ham, ham-loaf, meatloaf, and crunchy stuff. …and God forbid you try to serve me the same meal twice in the same day. AND if you did, I’d complain. AND if I complained, the fiery vengeance of God would be enacted upon the trespasser. My mother and my grandmother didn’t put up with my whining and complaining. The authority figures in my life forced me to eat whatever caused me grief, and I endured the suffering to my advantage. Eventually…OBVIOUSLY…my pallet developed and I now relish the delicious delicacies that this wonderful world has to offer such as deep-fried testicles, stringy stuff, and fresh peaches.

As a child, I frequently encountered food with an attitude of discontent. As an adult—especially Saturday evening at Randy’s—I encounter food (among other things) with gluttony. Gluttony is often defined as excess in eating or drinking. Gluttony, however, goes much deeper than that. Gluttony is greedy or excessive indulgence. Gluttony stems from discontent and boredom. It is a way for a fallen individual to find satisfaction, happiness, joy, and contentment. Gluttony is a release from boredom and monotony in the pleasure of food, companionship, or some other distraction from the day-to-day grind. One can be gluttonous with relationships, gluttonous with his or her career, gluttonous with material possession, gluttonous with sexuality, or gluttonous with a hobby or a television program…it’s not just food. Since the remedy is not discovered in these worldly endeavors, I ask the same question Paul asks in his letter to the Romans:

“Who will free me from this life?” (Romans 7:24).

While the Israelites were wandering through the wilderness, they unremittingly whined and complained. After building the Tabernacle and wandering around the desert for several months, the Israelites—once again—brought out their ol’ stand-by: “Oh, for some meat!” they exclaimed. “We remember the fish we used to eat for free in Egypt. And we had all the cucumbers, melons, leeks, onions, and garlic we wanted. But now our appetites are gone. All we ever see is this manna!” (Numbers 11:4-6).

I mean…I get it. Garlic is GOOD!

Here’s God’s answer to their complaining:

“Purify yourselves, for tomorrow you will have meat to eat. You were whining, and the Lord heard you when you cried, ‘Oh, for some meat! We were better off in Egypt!’ Now the Lord will give you meat, and you will have to eat it. And it won’t be for just a day or two, or for five or ten or even twenty. You will eat it for a whole month until you gag and are sick of it. For you have rejected the Lord, who is here among you, and you have whined to him, saying, ‘Why did we ever leave Egypt?’”

—Numbers 11:18-20

It’s interesting what God does between his sentencing and carrying out that sentence…he actually provides them with the solution to their discontent. He has Moses gather 70 elders and then station them around the Tabernacle. After speaking to the 70 elders, God dispersed his Spirit and the elders experience the same Spirit of God Moses had experienced. They are all ecstatic in the Holy Spirit and prophesize for the remainder of the day. After one day, all but two elders returned to their family. Two men, however, remain in the Spirit. They prophesize throughout the camp and begin to embarrass some of the other leaders. Joshua actually rats them out to Moses saying, “Moses, my master, make them stop!” (Numbers 11:28). Moses replied, “Are you jealous for my sake? I wish that all the Lord’s people were prophets and that the Lord would put his Spirit upon them all!” (Numbers 11:29).

Gluttony for meat was simply a symptom of their spiritual illness. The Israelites needed to find their satisfaction in God’s Spirit. Moses prophetically recognizes the Messianic solution to discontent: Gluttony for God!

Paul echoes Moses’ sentiment with his answer to the aforementioned question—“Who will save me from this life?”  

Thank God! The answer is in Jesus Christ our Lord.” (Romans 7:25).

Ultimately the remedy to the illness of boredom, monotony, and discontent is gluttony and craving, but not for low-flying quail or a pound of ground beef, bacon, mozzarella sticks, and testicles. The solution is found in one’s gluttony and craving for the Son of God.

I am the true bread that came down from heaven. Anyone who eats this bread will not die as your ancestors did (even though they ate the manna) but will live forever.”

—John 6:58

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