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Digesting Grace: Why the Food We Eat Matters to God

Digesting Grace: Why the Food We Eat Matters to God

And why buying produce from our local CSA reminds me of this fact.

It's Tuesday afternoon, which means I come home from work to a kitchen counter filled with bags of veggies and leafy greens. I dig through the produce: bok choy again. I've eaten more bok choy in the past three weeks than I have in the past three decades, but I suppose that's sort of the point: When you buy into a CSA farm, you take what the land gives you.

Eighth Day Farm is our local CSA, or Community Supported Agriculture, in Holland, Michigan. Simply put, CSA is a model of farming in which community members buy a share of a farm's produce before the season begins. This gives the farmer—in our case, Jeff Roessing—a guaranteed source of income, and gives CSA members a regular supply of fresh, local food.

So tonight it's stir-fried bok choy, again, with kohlrabi, garlic scapes, onions, and you-pick peas. My family is eating our greens (fresh, organic, and about as local as they come) because I see it as a deeply theological act. What my family eats matters to me because, like all aspects of this earthly life, food matters to God.

Food is a gift. In fact, food is the first gift. In one entirely accurate sense, all things from God's good hands are gifts, but I think food is somehow unique. Open a Bible to Genesis 1 and look at what God does in the creation story. More specifically, look at the verbs: God creates, he hovers, he says, he names, he separates, he makes and blesses and sees and declares it good. But it isn't until the end of the chapter, in verse 29, that he gives. And what does he give? Food.

"Behold," God says, "I have given you every plant and every tree. You shall have them for food."

Later, after the Flood, God adds animals: "Every moving thing that lives shall be food for you. And as I gave you the green plants, I give you everything" (Gen. 9:3).

When properly understood as a gift, it becomes clear that food is a tangible expression of God's love for us. As theologian Norman Wirzba has put it, food is "God's love made edible." It is one essential way that he shows his care for us (see Matt. 6:26). It is a physical embodiment of God's common grace, given for the good of his creation. And it's one of the practical means by which Jesus Christ sustains all things.


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Displaying 1–2 of 2 comments

Bob Bobo

August 17, 2012  11:34am

Generally, I agree with the sentiment of this story and appreciate the authors, food, gifts, all relating to God and whats best for our bodies. Yes, our USA lifestyle, fast food and processed food is bad for us! You don't need to be a Chrstian to know that. Yes, working in a garden and eating turnips out of the ground makes you feel closer to the creator. Sure. But, I also find this article "leagalistic" as the author has this down like its a "doctrine" working the scriptures as if they are for his view. The next step from this artcle would be calling those who dont embrace his earthyness as "sinful". Not really sure how this ministers to the larger group of believers CT focuses on. Mother Earth news YES, but CT? Not sure.


August 17, 2012  2:29am

I'm not trying to be a "legalist" for making this comment, but making it from a medical point of view. God devoted a whole chapter in Leviticus 11 telling those who would seek to follow his Word what was good for us and what was not. Now that sounds legalistic, but in the light of the medical knowledge we have it is not. My family has had cancer in it twice. My father died of colon cancer and my sister had breast cancer. In each case, the doctor gave them a list of "do not eat" items, which frankly, looked like he copied off of Leviticus 11. Yet the medical profession will not admit that is their source, for obvious reasons. Leviticus 11 was not given merely to the Jews for ceremonial reasons, it was put in the Word of God for all believers, for the benefit of their health. Early death from eating what the Bible terms as "unclean" come in the form of cancer and heart disease, that much is sure. Let's not leave God's Word out of the "health equation."


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