The Stomach God

Have you ever gotten a scripture phrase  stuck in your head?
Lately, this phrase keeps coming to my mind: “their god is their stomach.”
It’s from Philippians.
When I first read this phrase as a child, I remember laughing at the absurdity that someone would worship their stomach. What was Paul even talking about? I thought, not ever imagining I would live in times like today.
A time when there are entire television channels devoted to food.
A time when one segment of the world faces starvation while another wrestles with obesity.
A time when food allergies and dietary restrictions are as common as blue eyes.
A time when even struggling families regularly eat fast food, take out, and restaurant fare.
A time when eating contests abound, when cable personalities travel the world in search of ever more exotic food, and when food and diet have become political footballs and subjects of serious mental health disorders as well as primetime entertainment.
A few years ago, I kept a journal and recorded what I was thinking or feeling every time I reached for food. Not surprisingly, it wasn’t always physical hunger that sent me to the frig.
I ate when I was angry, annoyed, restless, bored, sad, scared, happy, and stressed (as well as times in between emotions).
In examining the journal, I realized I was turning to food for comfort, calm, direction, celebration, sedation, excitement, and strength.
Isn’t God my comfort?
Isn’t God my strength?
Isn’t God my peace, my guide, my joy?
I had to admit that on a very deep level, my stomach had become my god. On a subconscious level, I was expecting food to supply my needs.
Seriously – not a good plan.
Our culture is so out of line with God’s will that our spiritual dysfunction worms its way into something as pedestrian and mundane as our cereal bowls.
This isn’t a post about food or fat or anorexia or Iron Chef America or Burger King. It’s a post about rooting out idols that slip into our life patterns like weekly bargain flyers.
Here’s the context of the Philippians passage:
“Join together in following my example, brothers and sisters, and just as you have us as a model, keep your eyes on those who live as we do.  For, as I have often told you before and now tell you again even with tears, many live as enemies of the cross of Christ.  Their destiny is destruction, their god is their stomach, and their glory is in their shame. Their mind is set on earthly things. But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ,  who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body.” Philippians 3:17-21 NIV
Jesus did a lot of miracles around food in way that challenged His followers to look past the food to the deeper message:
“Meanwhile his disciples urged him, “Rabbi, eat something.” But he said to them, “I have food to eat that you know nothing about.” Then his disciples said to each other, “Could someone have brought him food?” “My food,” said Jesus, “is to do the will of him who sent me and to finish his work.” John 4: 31-34
This isn’t a blog post about food.
Ask yourself this week – where am I going, on a daily basis, to get my deepest needs met?
The answer will either be your God or your idol.
I’m curious about your thoughts on this subject. I’m thinking a lot about it lately. What do you think? What are your questions? What are your answers?

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    The Conversation

  1. Great thoughts. And this is the essence of Lysa TerKeurst’s great book Made to Crave. It’s striking a chord – been on the NYT bestseller list and it’s got a Bible Study that goes with it, too.

  2. I ticked the ‘encouraging’ box for this post because it emphasizes what I’ve been pondering lately. I want my life to be God-centered and I’m discovering there are all kinds of temptations and obstacles opposing that goal. I’m refining my focus on WORSHIP. I intend to hunt it down and flesh it out in my daily life.