I am a self-confessed ‘foodie’! I cannot deny it, all my friends know it to be true … especially my Facebook friends who are often treated to photographs of meals that I have enjoyed in various parts of the world. According to Wikipedia (that font of all human knowledge) ‘a foodie is a person who has an ardent or refined interest in food and alcoholic beverages’. In my defence I have to say that a ‘foodie’ seeks new food experiences as a hobby rather than simply eating out of convenience or hunger. True, I may be somewhat overweight as a result, but I am not grossly overweight (only about 7lbs or so) although Julia constantly nags me about the need for me to undertake more exercise. In response I have now actually moved the exercise bike from the garage into the junk room in our house?
So, given the fact that I am without question a ‘foodie’, when we came to live in Knaphill just before Christmas 2015 … I honestly thought that I had died and gone to ‘food heaven’! We love living in this ‘urban village’ on the outskirts of Woking for lots and lots of reasons, but one of those reasons is the vast number of excellent cafés, eateries and restaurants that exist here. And what a wonderful choice of cuisines? There is something for every occasion, every taste, and every mood! Stef’s Café has got to be just one of the best places ever for a ‘Full English’ breakfast (it even rivals Café Blue in Weymouth) and one of our (almost) weekly delights is to slip in for breakfast after our early morning (well early enough for us) Prayer Meeting at the Church on a Friday. Julia (as you would expect) always chooses the ‘healthy option’ (salmon and poached eggs) whilst I (as you would also expect) always chooses the ‘unhealthy option’?! Valentino’s Coffee and Juice Bar serve up the most wonderful Italian pastries to go with the coffee of your choice, whilst the Forbidden City Chinese Restaurant has just got to be the best Chinese restaurant ever with its wonderful ‘all-you-can-eat’ menu, brilliant ambience and friendly service. The pizzas from Milano Pizza are superb, and lunch at the Garibaldi pub is a real treat. And these are just a few of the places we have managed to visit in the three months we have been in Knaphill!
We are really looking forward to slowly but surely visiting all the other cafés, eateries, restaurants and pubs in turn … everything from the two fish and chip shops to the posh Italian Restaurants! I have ‘toured’ the village and made a note of the 18 or so places I want to visit … and I haven’t even managed to venture down the hill towards Woking yet, even though I know that there are various other places down there that are probably also ‘calling my name’?!
However, as Jesus reminds us, ‘People cannot live by food alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God’ (Matthew 4:4). The context of this saying of Jesus is his temptation in the desert following on from his baptism and anointing with the Holy Spirit. One of the temptations that Satan put before Jesus was to use his divine power to ‘feed all the world’s hungry’ – which on the face of things seems like a jolly good idea?! Jesus knew, however, that ‘feeding all the world’s hungry’ would not really solve the bigger problem of ‘man’s inhumanity to man’. In Jesus’ day, as in our own day, the problem of ‘world hunger’ could easily have been solved simply by a ‘fairer distribution of assets’. In one sense we do not need ‘divine intervention’ to solve the problem of hunger in the ‘two-thirds world’!? All that is needed is for the ‘haves’ to share what they have with the ‘have not’s’. The rich to share their possessions equally with the poor. There is more than enough food to go around if only that third of the world with more than enough shared what they have with the two-thirds of the world that don’t have enough. A recent Oxfam report revealed the startling fact that ‘the richest 85 people on the globe, between them, control as much wealth as the poorest half of the global population put together’!
For Jesus, using his divine power to ‘feed the hungry’ would only mask the real problem behind ‘world poverty’ (and all the other ‘evils’ of this world) which is ‘man’s inhumanity to man’ (and I don’t apologise here for using non-politically correct language because it normally is ‘men’ who lead the way in these evils). Thus, in response to Satan, Jesus quotes Deuteronomy 8:3: ‘People cannot live by food alone … they live by every word that comes out of the mouth of God!’ In other words, the only way we are going to change this world for the better is by taking seriously the way God wants us all to live, as laid out for us clearly in the Bible … and if I may so, particularly in the New Testament and in the teaching of Jesus that we find in the Gospels!
In our church, Knaphill Baptist Church, we are currently working our way (during Lent) through a series of studies on the theme of ‘Taking God Seriously’. We have based this series initially on a verse from the Book of Micah where the Prophet exhorts us: ‘Don’t take yourselves too seriously … take God seriously!’ (Micah 6:8 The Message). In the same verse Micah goes on to ask: ‘What does the Lord require of you?’ and answers this question by suggesting such things as: ‘To act justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly before God’. In our series we are looking at what this really means, but in addition we are looking at some of the things Jesus also suggested in answer to this question. We are deliberately ‘bringing Jesus into the equation’ because it is only in and through him that we can find the ‘life changing power and purpose’ which enables us to ‘make a real difference’. As Saul of Tarsus (who eventually became the Apostle Paul), a high ranking Jewish Pharisee (who recognised that ‘religious legalism’ didn’t ‘cut the mustard’) discovered: ‘I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me’ (Philippians 4:13).
Introducing ‘foodie’ talk during Lent may seem somewhat ‘improper’, especially for those who have chosen to ‘give up’ certain things for Lent. Certainly the ‘traditional’ understanding of Lent was that it was a time for ‘fasting’ – giving up certain things such as favourite foods, or drink etc. in order to devote more time to prayer and contemplation, thought and decision, in preparation for the ‘serious events’ and challenges of Easter Week. For a number of years now I have adopted a somewhat different approach which is to use the Lent period to prayerfully think through areas where God might want me to ‘add something’ to my way of life, in the light of all that Jesus did for us on the Cross and through the Resurrection. Something that would glorify God and bless others rather than something which would simply ‘benefit me’ selfishly. Such things might be to give more to charity (to help the disadvantaged in the two-thirds world, perhaps), or to give time to work in a charity shop, or with young people, or … well the possibilities are endless (and in reality this is between you and God and your conscience)! For me, of course, as a self-confessed ‘foodie’ ‘feasting’ is to be preferred to ‘fasting’ any day … although perhaps the two really do go together … and perhaps we also need to have a different kind of ‘food’ in mind …
Fast from criticism and feast on praise.
Fast from self-pity and feast on joy.
Fast from ill-temper and feast on peace.
Fast from resentment and feast on contentment.
Fast from jealousy and feast on love.
Fast from pride and feast on humility.
Fast from selfishness and feast on service.
Fast from fear and feast on faith.