God Is in the Grocery Aisle

I’m the grocery shopper in our family. I walk the aisles of choices and read the labels, searching the food, trying to discern facts from fiction.

This regular responsibility comes with some regular fears about making the wrong choices in what I feed my family. I hear the warnings in the news and read about them online. The consequences of choosing poorly can be paralyzing. What if my decisions somehow were sentencing our family to stunted growth or lower immunity or sickness or cancer or even death?

It’s sad, but sometimes I allow the food in my cart to label me. If I walk down the organic aisle with its pesticide-free, non-GMO, “real” food, I feel good about myself and my mothering. My pride gladly wears the labels “informed”, “wise”, and “caring.” But if my shadow darkens the aisle of the processed, chemically-bathed “non-food,” my fearful heart wants to hide in shame.

Eating the Bread of Anxious Toil

We humans are a fearful bunch — longing for wisdom and control for as long as we’ve lived on this earth, dating back to Adam and Eve. We arm ourselves with research on carcinogens, studies on long-term exposure, and shocking facts on what’s in that chicken nugget. We can know the exact farm, genealogy, and diet of every grazing animal gracing our table. It can feel like we’re purchasing peace of mind, warding off disease with our wisdom and our wallet. But no amount of information or money can alter the reality of living in a fallen world, all of it fading with death and disease.

Should we write off healthy eating? Of course not! But neither do we need to anxiously obsess over every morsel on our plates, lest our fixation with our food consume us. Jesus tells us we shouldn’t worry about what we eat or drink (Matthew 6:25). “Is not life more than food?” Our heavenly Father is sovereign over our health, our bodies, and the number of our days, so we’re free to seek first his kingdom and his righteousness (Matthew 6:33), not our meal plan. When worries about food cause me to shrink back in fear and forget God’s kingdom, I need the gospel to remind me time and again: Jesus is the one who makes me clean, not my food.

“Jesus is the one who makes me clean, not my food.”

Feeding on the Bread of Life

Because of Christ’s work on the cross, my anxiety over our family’s food choices are replaced with a new perspective. Isaiah 55:2 invites us to come to a different kind of store — one where we buy without money. “Why do you spend your money for that which is not bread, and your labor for that which does not satisfy? Listen diligently to me, and eat what is good, and delight yourselves in rich food.” The rich food we long for is not the bread of health, but the Bread of Life — Jesus (John 6:35)!

This Bread — the one God gives freely — is the body of Christ (Mark 14:22). God sent his one and only son, Jesus, to earth to live a sinless life and perfectly fulfill the law. He was crucified and died a sinner’s death to pay for our sins. His blood was poured out for many, for the hungry (Mark 14:24). Christ’s blood covers our lack of faith in him and our desire to seek and build our own kingdom. Christ paid for it all, satisfying God’s wrath on our behalf, in order to set us free and make us full.

Delight yourself in Jesus — feast on the Bread of Life and you will never hunger or thirst. This “superfood” is the only meal that promises and faithfully delivers life everlasting (John 6:58).

Take Heart and Eat

“Peace does not come from my grocery list, a quota of calories, or the food pyramid.”

I need regular reminders that peace does not come from my grocery list, a quota of calories, or the food pyramid. The peace of Christ that surpasses all understanding is an enduring gift of grace. If his peace came through our adherence to rules, systems, or our works (Romans 11:6; Ephesians 2:8), his grace would no longer be grace, and the news would no longer be good. As Paul cautioned, we must be careful that we are not “led away” by judgments over foods. What we eat cannot satisfy our soul. Hebrews 13:9 reminds us it is good for our hearts to feast on and be strengthened by grace.

As we plan for meals and shop for groceries, it’s wise to consider what’s good for us. God has called us to be good stewards of the gifts he’s given us, including our body and our budget. God’s word also tells us that the earth is the Lord’s (1 Corinthians 10:26) and everything in it. It is he who has given us life, and breath, and everything (Acts 17:25), including the wide variety of options in your favorite aisle.

Because God is trustworthy, we can evaluate information and do our best to choose what seems right for our family among all the options in front of us. And we can rest knowing we are in God’s very capable, loving, and saving hands. So, whether you eat or drink — or plan or buy or cook — or whatever you do, may your grocery goals be governed by the rest we have in the gospel and aimed to bring the Giver glory (1 Corinthians 10:31).