You are What You Eat
August 20, 2006 Speaker: Rev. Jack Meehan
Topic: Biblical Verse: John 6:51–6:58
Eleventh Sunday after Pentecost
"You Are What You Eat"
"You are what you eat," so goes the old saying. And the more I go along in life, the more I realize just how true this really is! The time was when I could eat just about anything in just about any amount, and there was no problem. Well, those days are gone. Like so many others, I try to watch what I eat. As we all know, a steady diet of fast food, junk food, and other not-good-for-you food is not good for you, and will catch up with us sooner or later. I was thinking about this last week when my family went out to Krispy Kreme donuts on Route 1. Delicious, but yikes! My motto in this regard is: "All things in moderation." It's okay to have a McDonald's hamburger once in a while. It's okay to have some dessert, just don't overdo it. Nutritional wisdom calls us to eat those things which are good for us: fruits and vegetables, foods that are lower in calories and cholesterol, to maintain better health. In today's Gospel reading, Jesus tells us that you are what you eat: "Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood have eternal life, and I will raise them up on the last day" (John 6:54). By feeding on Christ Jesus, the living Bread, we receive what His gifts: the forgiveness of sins, life, and salvation, and we become what we eat. That's the theme for today's message: "You Are What You Eat." May God's rich blessing attend the preaching, the hearing-the eating-and the living of his Word, for Jesus' sake.
As we delve into God's Word for today, the Scripture lessons speak of wisdom-not the same as being smart or intellectual. You can be smart as a whip and still not be wise. From a Biblical perspective, wisdom means living in accordance with God's will and purpose, knowing the grace and favor of the Lord. Wisdom is personified as a woman in today's first reading (Proverbs 9:1-6). She invites all, especially those who are "simple and without sense," to come, eat and drink: "Lay aside immaturity, and live, and walk in the way of insight" (Proverbs 9:6). That insight comes from God, to do as St. Paul tells us in today second reading (Ephesians 5:15-20): "Be careful then how you live, not as unwise people but as wise, making the most of the time, because the days are evil" (Ephesians 5:15). So how do we live wisely? How do we make the most of the time? Let's take a look at today's psalmody (Psalm 34:9-14). Like the first Scripture lesson, there is an invitation to come and learn: "Come, children, and listen to me; I will teach you the fear of the Lord." Ah, now we're getting somewhere. Elsewhere in the psalms we read: "The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom" (Psalm 111:10). "Fear of the Lord" here is not cowering in dread apprehension of God. Perfect love casts out that kind of fear (1 John 4:18). Rather, this fear of the Lord is a holy awe and reverence, a deep respect, for the God of all creation and the God of our salvation. This is where true wisdom begins. That wisdom will lead us to "... understand what the will of the Lord is," (Ephesians 5:17), as Paul tells us. We'll want to be filled-not with alcohol in order to get drunk, but to be filled with the Holy Spirit. The Spirit will move us "sing psalms and hymns and spiritual song... singing and making melody to the Lord in your hearts..." (Ephesians 5:19). Even if we can't carry a tune in a bucket, that song of praise is beautiful and pleasing to the Lord because it comes from a thankful heart and is offered "in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ" (Ephesians 5:20).
Truly, if we are feeding on such things as these, we are what we eat. Feeding on the life-giving Word of God found in holy Scripture will lead us to wisdom, helping us become spiritually mature, walking with insight and making the most of the time. I cannot over-emphasize to you the absolute critical importance of being in God's Word and engaged in Bible study on a frequent and regular basis. Three weeks from now a new year of Christian learning begins with Rally Sunday on September 10. We can come up with all kinds of excuses-some of them valid, some of them not-about why we can't be in Bible study. It comes down to this: if we're not feeding on God's Word, we are slowly but surely starving ourselves to death. Do your soul a favor, and get yourself into a Bible study. The insert in today's Ministry Messages is a good place to start.
The whole message of the Bible points us to Jesus Christ, the Bread of life. He tells us: "Whoever eats of this bread will live forever, and the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh" (John 6:51). The flesh of the God-man, Jesus of Nazareth, was offered up on the tree of the cross for you and for me-for the whole world. By eating of him, we have life-real and abundant life, life that begins now as we make the most of the time given to us, and that life continues on after we die. The promise of Christ is that even death itself cannot undermine or destroy this life. There are strong references to the Lord's Supper here in John 6: "Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood have eternal life, and I will raise them up on the last day; for my flesh is true food and my blood is true drink" (John 6:54-55). Not only do we feed on the Word of the Lord in Scripture; we also have the privilege of feeding on Christ's true Body and true Blood in the Lord's Supper. If we are what we eat, then by eating and drinking Christ in the Sacrament, in a very real way He is in us and we are in him. And through the power of the Holy Spirit we become that which we have eaten: we become Christ-like. Having been fed through Word and Sacrament, we go out from the house of the Lord to be the hands, the feet, and the mouth of Christ to our neighbor, whoever that may be.
You are what you eat. May each one of us become what we eat-who we eat: Jesus Christ the Bread of life. Amen.
Blessed Lord, who hast caused all holy Scripture to be written for our learning: grant that we may in such wise hear them; read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest them; that by patience and comfort of your Holy Spirit, we may embrace and ever hold fast the blessed hope of everlasting life which Thou hast given us through our Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen.