What do we feed off of? You’ve heard the expression, “You are what you eat”? This is a very real phrase, that defines how our body take on/absorbs the stuff we put into our mouths. Eat healthy, to be healthy. Eat junk and feel like junk. We know this to be true, but yet doing it is a whole different challenge. Especially when natural foods at the store are more expensive than processed foods, and restaurant do a better job of catering to the – get in, eat as fast as you can, get out – market. Yes, this is true of fast food places, but it is also true of sit down restaurants. There are subtle ways which they encourage you to eat and get out. For instance, have you ever had the waitress bring you your check and your still eating your meal?
For me, I can see these same principles in our everyday lives beyond the food department. We are rushed at work. Do more for less pay. We are rushed at the gym. Only 30 minutes on treadmill. The images that go into our eyes and sounds into our ears are mostly violent and unhealthy. Have you counted how many police, or crime type shows are on T.V during the week? What about doctors shows? I personally believe this is why the Big Bang Theory is so popular. It is one show on TV that isn’t about death or murder, rape, or drugs. But yet here we have it, our minds are being feed from this stuff. So if this is what we are feeding our minds. What exactly are we expecting our minds to be like? Does the rule, “you are what you eat,” apply here also?
Jesus says, “Listen and understand it is not what goes into the mouth that defiles a person, but it is what come out of the mouth that defiles.” (Matthew 15:11)
This may seem like a cryptic message, but really it makes sense. The pharisees were challenging Jesus about cleanliness rules. Rules that claimed you must wash hands before you eat to stay purified. But Jesus is saying it isn’t the food that is defiles a person. No, it is much more invasive than this. Food passes through, but what comes out of your mouth, your thoughts, your words, this reflects your heart. It reflects how you feel about things.
But is not how we feel about things still a result of what we feed off of? Maybe not the food we eat, but the mental food we consume? If so, what do we do about it? Where can we turn to fill ourselves up with positive food for our mind and heart?
There are lots of self help books and books that guide us in finding the right center for our spiritual selves so we can live a better outward expression. Books like, “Feelings: Buried Alive Never Die…” I enjoy this books and they are helpful, but what would happen if we also made it a priority to mediate on the root of the relationship, which is love?
Jesus says, “Hear I Israel, the Lord our God. The Lord is One. Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, with all your strength. The second is this: Love your neighbor as yourself. There is no commandment greater than these.”
Funny how God was giving us the key’s to mental well being long before we had the ability to mass print books. These words from God, shared by Jesus, are beckoning us to feed our selves on the love of God. We are being asked to turn away from that which demolishes relationships and pull people apart, from violence and destruction, and turn toward loving each other. Turn toward building relationships. This is what God is giving us to feed off, a nourishing meal of God’s love so that we can love others, and Jesus by his teachings shows us how to do this. (Read Matthew chapter 5-7). By his sacrifice Jesus shows us what this means. To love others so much, that there is a willingness to put the self on death’s door for their sake. A willingness to challenge the rules in place that cause separation, and advocate for principles that build community. There is food to feed us, and it is the love of God, and love of neigbhor. Let us chew on it with pleasure.
Post Script – In my faith tradition a sin is anything that separates us from God and others. Sin is not simply breaking a rule. It is about breaking relationships, as such anything that can cause damage to a relationship is a sin. Love on the other hand is the source of pulling relationships together. I will leave you to ponder this in your heart.