A Waste of Time

Rob Rhinehart is a software engineer who grew tired of making and eating food. He felt like shopping, cooking, and eating were a waste of time.

The only reason humans eat, he reasoned, was to survive. So he decided to treat eating like an engineering problem that needed to be resolved. In January 2013 he began an experiment.

He purchased 35 chemicals humans require to live, including potassium gluconate, calcium carbonate, monosodium phosphate, maltodextrin, and olive oil.

He then tinkered with the concoction over a few months until he developed a meal-replacement drink that he claimed a person could survive on indefinitely, saving on time, money, and effort. His discovery eventually became the product sold as Soylent. According to Wikipedia, one reviewer said he was “pleasantly surprised” with the “rich, creamy, and strangely satisfying” flavor, and another likened it to that of a vanilla milkshake with the texture of pancake batter.

Negative reviewers said it tasted “like someone wrung out a dishtowel into a glass” said “my mouth tastes hot and like old cheese”, and one reviewer compared the taste to “homemade nontoxic Play-Doh,” Farhad Manjoo of The New York Times said he “found Soylent to be a punishingly boring, joyless product.”

Chris Ziegler of The Verge, who experimented with subsisting only on Soylent for almost a month, said that although he liked and “never really tired of the flavor”, he still concluded that “Soylent isn’t living, it’s merely surviving,” and described the apple he ate at the end of that period as “my first meal back from the abyss” and the best he’d ever had in his life.

I think we can all agree that even if there was a substitute for food that could satisfy and sustain us, there is no way to make it more appetizing than real meals.

But there is one substitute for food mentioned in the Bible that is more satisfying than actually eating.



In John chapter 4 we read of Jesus’ meeting with the Samaritan woman at the well. Then his disciples return with food.

John 4: 31-34 Meanwhile the disciples were urging him, saying, “Rabbi, eat.” But he said to them, “I have food to eat that you do not know about.” So the disciples said to one another, “Has anyone brought him something to eat?” Jesus said to them, “My food is to do the will of him who sent me and to accomplish his work.

In 1943 psychologist, Abraham Maslow postulated a theory that human happiness is pursued according to a “hierarchy of needs,” namely:

  1. Physiological: food, water, rest…
  2. Safety: security from danger, employment, money…
  3. Belonging: friendship, family, intimacy…
  4. Esteem: respected by others, self-respect…
  5. Self-actualization: creativity, fulfilment…

So, according to Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, you require firstly food, and lastly feeling significant and fulfilled in life.

This makes sense to us because when you are hungry or thirsty or cold, you aren’t pondering the meaning of life. You just want a burger and Coke and a warm jacket.

But think about this: have you ever lost your appetite due to a relationship tension?

Have you ever neglected to take care of your health because of work pressure?

When you are trying to impress your boss or a girl, or when you are trying to win a marathon, you are capable of suppressing hunger, ignoring thirst, enduring pain.

Why? Because we are not bodies with spirits. We are spirits, with bodies.

Your body exists so that you can move around in the physical realm and get things done to the glory of God. But you are created in the image of God. You are a spiritual being primarily, and a physical being secondarily.

That is why the Scriptures tell us to master the desires of the body and subdue them to the soul…

Galatians 5: 16 But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh.

When you realize that your true fulfillment comes from obeying God, from serving God, from living for eternity then you can experience joy and satisfaction like never before.

This is what’s going on with Jesus. Jesus just had a very satisfying, fulfilling, successful encounter with a sinner who got saved. This is why he came to earth: to seek and save the lost.

There is nothing more invigorating than being in the center of God’s will.

If I told you to try go a week without FaceBook, or TV, or without sugar, or without meat, or dairy, how would you respond? Likely you would say, there is no reason for that because those things aren’t sinful. Yes, but are you really in control of them?

1 Corinthians 6: 12-13 “All things are lawful for me,” but not all things are helpful. “All things are lawful for me,” but I will not be dominated by anything. “Food is meant for the stomach and the stomach for food”—and God will destroy both one and the other. …


John 4: 35-38 Do you not say, ‘There are yet four months, then comes the harvest’? Look, I tell you, lift up your eyes, and see that the fields are white for harvest. Already the one who reaps is receiving wages and gathering fruit for eternal life, so that sower and reaper may rejoice together. For here the saying holds true, ‘One sows and another reaps.’ I sent you to reap that for which you did not labor. Others have labored, and you have entered into their labor.”

The picture Jesus is using here is one with which his disciples in their agrarian society would have been totally familiar. Their food came, not from supermarkets and fast-food restaurants, but from crops.

People understood the simple truth of where food comes from: the field.

You have to work to eat. You have to sow seeds. You have to wait. Then you have to reap and gather the fruit, or you will miss the opportunity, and starve. Fruit doesn’t gather itself—you have to go get it. It’s the same spiritually. A soul doesn’t save itself—you have to go get it.

The point Jesus makes is that when you see the crop is ready for harvest, that signals it’s time to work so you can eat and be satisfied.

Well, look around disciples… The Gentiles are ripe for the plucking. The Samaritans are ready to be saved. The Greeks, Romans, Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, Thessalonians… they’re all ready to be harvested, so go get ’em.

There is a cornucopia of converts waiting for you to go preach and baptize and disciple and send out to preach, baptize, disciple, and send out. And you will be filled to the brim with satisfaction when you live according to your purpose.

Feast on salvation in Jesus and then go share that feast with others. Invite people to church. Ask if you can pray for people at work who are going through a tough time.

The conclusion is simple:

Turn away from the hollow pleasures of trivia and sin and enjoy the filling feeling of soul food, and the satisfaction of obedience.

Clint Archer

Published by Intentional Faith

Devoted to a Faith that Thinks

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