I don’t know about you, but I really love the holidays. I love time off of work to focus on relaxing and spending time with family and friends. I love Christmas music and movies, and I love to see my kids get stoked about the lights, just to name a few. Most importantly I love being reminded of why Christmas exists: Jesus.
One other reason I love the holidays is GREAT FOOD. Food is a big part of this time of the year. Which is a GREAT thing! 😀
Here are 5 simple thoughts that can profoundly maximize how we enjoy meals together as the people of God this holiday season.
1. Food Points Us to Jesus
Food is both physical and spiritual. Just like our physical bodies need food, so our spiritual bodies need food. In fact, food is really designed to remind us of this reality. Physical food is a shadow of spiritual food. We need physical food to survive and thrive physically and we need spiritual food to survive and thrive spiritually.
Jesus said, “I have food to eat that you do not know about.”1 He said this in reference to the spiritual sustenance found in communion with His Father and doing His Father’s will. It’s a spiritual kind of food that sustains the life more important than your physical one: your inner spiritual being.
The Apostle Paul wrote about the strengthening of this inner spiritual being: “According to the riches of His glory He may grant you to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith…”2
We must always remember that our physical life is a dying shadow of the true reality and life to come in the New Creation.
“So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.”
2 Corinthians 4:16-18 ESV
Every time we eat physical food we should be reminded of the fact that we likewise must be partaking of spiritual food if we are to truly and ultimately thrive.
Seek spiritual food by setting aside time for spiritual meals of 1) private fellowship and communion with God as well as 2) public fellowship and communion with God’s people.
2. Eat to the Glory of God
God created us to bring Him glory through experiencing pleasure and joy in many forms, including eating. The design of our bodies including the senses and appetites – our taste buds and our emotional enjoyment when eating – are all wonderful gifts from the Creator. These are common graces experienced by the “good” and evil alike. Food in all its varieties is a gift from God to be enjoyed and received with thanksgiving.
We can eat for many different reasons – necessity, fitness, or pleasure to name a few. However, though these reasons aren’t bad in and of themselves they should not be the primary reason we eat. The Bible teaches us that we can eat for ourselves, resulting in worshiping the creation rather than Creator and overindulging3, or we can eat and drink to the glory of God.4 What does that mean? It means that:
- In all of life we can glorify God, including the most repetitive daily and sometimes mundane activities such as eating and drinking.5
- That we are free to enjoy all things at the proper time and in the proper amounts – there is a time and season for everything including great food and drink.6
- We should receive food and drink as a gift from God with thanksgiving.7
- We should never elevate food to a position in our lives that it shouldn’t occupy (worshiping creation and God’s gifts as gods in and of themselves). A lot could be said here, but I’m confident the Holy Spirit will lead each one of us in how this applied to our lives.8
These are just a few statements of application of this passage, there are many others. We must be biblical, we must be balanced, we must flee from legalism and we must flee from overindulgence, and we must be good stewards of our bodies and life. All these things could be expounded on extensively. However, for now, eat to the glory of God and allow His Spirit to guide you in that application.
Too often we make secondary things and secondary reasons primary and that’s when they become problematic. When created things are in their right place, they can become wonderful gifts from God rather than becoming idols in our lives. So as we enjoy an abundance of food and drink this holiday season, let’s ensure that we have the proper perspective, receive them as good gifts from a good God and not allow them to simply be diminished into an activity simply focused on ourselves and our pleasure.
In all that you do, especially the mundane and seemingly insignificant things like eating or drinking, do all to the glory of God.
3. Be Thankful
“…Who forbid marriage and require abstinence from foods that God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and know the truth. For everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving, for it is made holy by the word of God and prayer.”
1 Timothy 4:3-5 ESV
Paul, in writing to Timothy about false teachers who were propagating a theology of abstinence from select foods, instructed him that these foods are created by God and “to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and know the truth. For everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving, for it is made holy by the word of God and prayer.”
There are several occasions in Scripture where Jesus gave thanks for His food. One of those occasions was at the last meal with His disciples before His crucifixion. Luke records, “And when He had taken some bread and given thanks, He broke it and gave it to them, saying, ”This is My body which is given for you; do this in remembrance of Me’.”9 On another occasion it says, “…And looking up to heaven, He gave thanks”10
Jesus gave thanks for His food and so should we.
As Paul instructed Timothy, “For everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving…”
Allow new meaning and depth to be infused into your prayer times before meals, knowing that the food we eat is a sign of God’s provision for us both physically and spiritually.
4. Build Meaningful Community
Jesus enjoyed food. And of course He would – He created it. [Side note, God created the world through Jesus [Colossians 1:16; Hebrews 1:1-4; John 1:3; 1 Corinthians 8:6]. 😀
That being said, Jesus created food and He created us to need food and enjoy food. The really interesting thing about food is that it is often a community practice. Have you ever noticed that when you eat alone there seems to be something missing? Do you find that when you eat alone it’s often not really about the enjoyment aspect of eating as much as it’s about the necessity aspect of eating? Or vise versa, have you noticed that when you eat with others it’s less about the necessity aspect of eating and more about the enjoyment? I believe this is because God has created us to eat in relationship and community with others.
Meals are important times in human relationships. Have you ever noticed how often meals accompany times of relationship building? I think this is profoundly built into human nature. God designed humans to develop relationships around meals. I believe this to be true both spiritually and physically. Eating together connects people in ways that many other things don’t.
Eating is something that is common ground among believers and non-believers. Thus it can be a tool used for the mission as well, which we see clearly in the life and ministry of Jesus. The gospels record Jesus eating meals with both His disciples and unbelievers. In fact, Jesus was judged for this very thing. Matthew 11:19 reads, “The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, ‘Look at Him! A glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’ Yet wisdom is justified by her deeds.”11 Jesus used mealtimes as a way to encourage and teach His disciples and spend time with lost people in order to lead them to the Truth, which is in fact, Himself.
Following Jesus’ examples, intentionally use meal times to build meaningful community with believers and as a tool for Jesus’ mission in the world.
5. Be Outward Focused and Generous
Proverbs 22:9 reads, “He who has a generous eye will be blessed, For he gives of his bread to the poor.”12 When we enjoy so much abundance and food we should also focus outward on those who do not have the abundance we enjoy. We should look for opportunities to give to and serve the weak and needy. It’s one of the key ways we can love, worship and glorify God. By providing the basic human needs of food and drink to the poor, we can point people to the spiritual food and drink they are so desperately in need of.
Jesus provided for physical needs in order to point people to their ultimate spiritual need. Click To Tweet
Jesus would often heal and provide for physical needs in order to point people to their ultimate spiritual need.13 How the physical body feels and reacts without food and water is a powerful illustration of how the soul feels and reacts without spiritual food and water. We can use this as a bridge for the Gospel, displaying through kindness and generosity the love of God for them and Him ultimate desire to heal them and provide for them spiritually through Jesus.
Likely all of us who are reading this can think of those who are less wealthy than we are. My challenge for us is to follow Paul’s instructions to Timothy for the rich. He writes, “Instruct them to do what is good, to be rich in good works, to be generous, willing to share…”14 This holiday season, let’s look for ways to do good works, be generous, and share the abundance God has given us with others. That may be accomplished through giving food and drink to the homeless, opening up our home to invite those who may not have family to participate in this joyous season with (like international students), or through numerous other ways we can turn outward and be generous toward those with less.
“He who is generous to the needy honors Him [God].”
Proverbs 14:31b ESV
Look for ways to be outward focused and generous to the poor and to those who are needy physically and emotionally.
As a fun reminder, we will eat and drink in the new creation (aka Heaven). In fact, there will be a feast to celebrate the final union between Jesus and His people called “The Marriage Supper of the Lamb.”15 There are a number of times eating and drinking is spoken about regarding our future lives in the New World.
Jesus said to His disciples, “You are those who have stayed with me in my trials, and I assign to you, as my Father assigned to me, a kingdom, that you may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom and sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel.”16 Furthermore, Jesus also said, “People will come from east and west, and from north and south, and recline at table in the kingdom of God.”17 Finally, when at the final meal with His disciples before His crucifixion, Jesus remarked, “Truly, I say to you, I will not drink again of the fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new in the kingdom of God.”18
These are just a few of the examples that articulate a small glimpse into the wonderful, mostly mysterious, realities of the New Creation that all those who follow Jesus will enjoy.
“Set your minds on things that are above…”!19 Remember the reason for the season is redemption and ultimately a totally new creation. That’s why Jesus came and that’s why He’s coming again.
References (dive in deeper & look it up yourself):
- John 4:32 ESV
- Ephesians 3:16-17 ESV
- Romans 1
- 1 Corinthians 10:31
- 1 Corinthians 10:31
- Ecclesiastes 3:1
- 1 Timothy 4:3-5
- Romans 1:25
- Luke 22:19 ESV
- Mark 6:41 LEB
- Matthew 11:19 ESV
- Proverbs 22:9 NKJV
- Matthew 9; Mark 2; Luke 5
- 1 Timothy 6:18 HCSB
- Revelation 19:9
- Luke 22:28-31 ESV
- Luke 13:29 ESV
- Mark 14:25 ESV
- Colossians 3:2a ESV
How will you eat well this holiday season?
Share your Responses, Thoughts, and Ideas in the Comments!