Our Eating Disorder

I have an eating disorder….and so do you. We all do to one degree or another. Every single person alive has an eating disorder. I’m going to prove that to you today but I also want to share the cure with you. We begin by distinguishing between appetite and hunger.

Appetite is a person’s general desire to eat food and dictates how much food we want to eat as well as the type of food we feel like eating. Hunger is our body’s biological response to a lack of food. It occurs when the body recognizes that it needs more food and sends a signal to the brain to eat. Eating disorders usually result from disorders of appetite or hunger or both. For example:

  • Someone has an appetite even when their body lacks signs of hunger (leading to over-eating)
  • Someone lacks an appetite even when their body has signs of hunger (leading to under-eating)
  • Someone lacks both appetite and hunger (again leading to under-eating)

Hunger is largely physiological but appetite is affected by many factors: physical, social, sensory, cultural, cognitive, habitual, geographical, economic, historical, etc.

A healthy and balanced appetite and hunger is a gift of God. It means everything is combining to give us reasonable and appropriate desires and cravings for food and a satisfaction with it. Only Adam and Eve experienced that, and only before the fall of humanity into sin. After that, every human being has suffered with disordered eating of one kind or another.

However, as with every part of God’s curse, this part is also ultimately intended to be a blessing as it sends us to God for healing, not just physical but spiritual healing. In John 6:22-35, we see Jesus addressing and curing disordered eating. He basically says to everyone, “You have an eating disorder that I alone can cure.” What is Jesus’ cure for our eating disorder?

NB: Like all mental health problems, not all eating disorders are only the result of personal sin. They can be in whole or in part a physiological or biological problem.

What eating disorder do I have?

JESUS RE-ORDERS OUR PRIORITIES (26-27)

The day after the ‘Feeding of the 5,000′ the crowd searched for Jesus, eventually located him across the lake in Capernaum, and asked how he’d got there (22-25).

Jesus answered them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, you are seeking me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate your fill of the loaves. Do not work for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures to eternal life which the Son of Man will give to you. For on him God the Father has set his seal” (26-27).

They prioritized the physical and temporary

The crowd’s priority was food for their bodies, and viewed Jesus primarily as someone who could fill their bellies. Hence his solemn rebuke: “Truly, truly, I say to you, you are seeking me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate your fill of the loaves” (26). It wasn’t even his miraculous signs they wanted to see; they just wanted food. It wasn’t “Fill our eyes with your miracles, but fill our stomaches with food.” Their whole day was filled with food-finding, prompting Jesus to say, “Do not work for the food that perishes.” Jesus was not forbidding working in order to get money for food to live, but making life all about that and primarily about that. Why? Because it doesn’t last. Our health doesn’t last, our working ability doesn’t last, our money doesn’t last, our food doesn’t last, our being filled doesn’t last.

Jesus prioritizes the spiritual and eternal

Jesus reverses their priorities: “Work…for the food that endures to eternal life which the Son of Man will give to you. For on him God the Father has set his seal.” Make spiritual food your greatest concern, focus, passion. Why? Because it lasts; it lasts longer than physical food, it lasts longer than life itself, and lasts even into eternity. It is non-perishable. It has no expiry date. Get your greatest satisfaction from Jesus. Jesus was telling the crowd, “Seek me by all means but seek me for the right reasons. I’m not here primarily to satisfy your bodily appetites but your spiritual appetite. God the Father has made clear that I am his way of filling up hungry humanity.”

CHANGING OUR STORIES WITH GOD’S STORY

Let’s admit our disordered priorities. “I confess that I have disordered appetites, that I prioritize my body over my soul, physical food over spiritual food, the temporary over the eternal. I try to satisfy my spiritual needs with sensual pleasures and it leaves me spiritually anorexic or obese. I confess that I spend an hour thinking about bodily needs for every minute on spiritual needs (Deut. 8:3).

Let’s get our priorities from Jesus. Jesus can re-order our appetites and therefore our priorities. He can give us healthy appetites and satisfy them with imperishable food. Just as our body is composed of what we put into it, so our soul can be re-constituted by changing our inputs. Jesus can change what we desire and how much we desire. He can take away or give control over harmful desires as well as give us new healthy desires.

Published by Intentional Faith

Devoted to a Faith that Thinks

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