**Originally published in The Christian Online Magazine, December 2012 Issue**
Food is more than a tasty treat, a temptation for over-indulgence, or an excuse to spend obscene amounts of money at fancy restaurants. No, food has a much greater significance. Food is a ministry—at least it can be. The following article highlights just a few examples from the Bible concerning food and its significance in our lives beyond tickling the taste-buds.
•Food for Forgiveness
Passage: Genesis 41-45
In the midst of a seven year famine, God paved the way for a divine appointment of familial restoration. Joseph’s brothers were forced to travel to Egypt to save the lives of their family by purchasing food from the Egyptian storehouses. Of course, they had no idea their brother Joseph, who they sold into slavery over a decade prior, would be the one standing between them and their hungry tummies.
In what is probably one of the most famous stories of the Old Testament, we see that Joseph chose to extend forgiveness to his wicked brothers (after first giving them the scare of their lives) instead of retaliating in anger. They came to him helpless and hungry, and through the use of food, God ushered in one of the most famous verses used by millions of Christians throughout generations:
“You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good, to accomplish what is now being done.” Genesis 50:20
God used a famine, a store-house full of grains, and some hungry men to bring forgiveness and healing to many wounded hearts. The food was the vehicle, but the deeper purpose was restoration. We need to look at our lives and see if there is unrelenting bitterness, anger, or resentment either in our hearts or the hearts of our loved ones. We are fast approaching Christmas but how many families will remain divided because of unresolved hurts? Maybe we are the vehicle God wants to use to bring the family back together. Ultimately we are only responsible for our own attitudes, but we can “set the table” for the rest of our loved ones to give that thing called “forgiveness” a try. Perhaps a holiday meal would be the perfect time for such an act of peace.
• Food for Faith
Passage: Matthew 14:13-21
Jesus had just been told the news: John the Baptist, his cousin and beloved friend, had been killed. At a time when most of us, in the light of such news, would have curled up in the fetal position and checked out of life for a while, Jesus was afforded no such luxury. Instead, he was followed by mobs of people anxiously awaiting His every move—would he heal again? What would He say next? No one wanted to miss a thing!
The disciples urged Jesus to force the crowds to leave; besides, it was late and the people were probably hungry—they should just leave Jesus alone and let Him grieve. But what was Jesus’ response? He chose to sacrifice his own comfort and focus on the needs of the people. They were hungry—he fed them. In fact, he fed five thousand of them!
When we are met with difficulty and pain, we tend to turn our focus inward and withdraw from companionship. But in that pain we are offered an opportunity to reach out and help someone else. And yes, we can do that with food. Someone out there is hungry; someone out there has a need. Perhaps God wants to use our pain, not to feel sorry for ourselves, but to reach out and touch someone else with the generous spirit of giving our Lord demonstrated for us.
So as another year comes to a close and we gather at tables full of buttered biscuits, pumpkin pies, carved hams, and candied yams, let’s purpose to reflect a spirit of love, forgiveness, and selfless service to the world around us.
“In a word, what I’m saying is, grow up. You’re kingdom subjects. Now live like it. Live out your God-created identity. Live generously and graciously toward others, the way God lives toward you.” Matthew 5:48 (MSG)
Rebecca Aarup is a health columnist for The Christian Online Magazine, a contributing writer for Encourage 365, founder and creater of S.E.R.V.A.N.T. Sisters, and has written devotionals/studies/articles for a variety of other publications. She just released her latest Bible Study The Word: Six Lessons from Psalm 119 which is available as a free download on her website or in print form from Amazon. Beyond writing, Rebecca is a wife, home-schooling mom, and Bible student at Liberty University. She lives in Glendale, Az with her husband Chris and 5 year old, Samantha. You can read more from Rebecca by following this blog and following her on twitter and facebook.