Why "All You Can Eat" Can Be a Spiritual Issue

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There’s something creepy about reading about the global economic meltdown right along with the return of the restaurant industry’s “all you can eat” trend.

Now, many who choose the “all you can eat” don’t eat all that much. They’re the ones who make money for the restaurant. But what is it about just knowing I can eat all I could possibly want that’s so attractive as an advertising device?

All of us want to be free from limits, and those limits typically start with food. Food, after all, reminds us we’re creatures, not gods. We’re dependent on provision. The Serpent uses words to turn Eve’s appetite away from the Logos and toward her autonomous digestive tract. The pattern is repeated from Esau to the sons of Eli to those who the Apostle Paul warns us serve as god who is “their belly” (Phil 3:19).

The self-control of the appetite, though, is a reminder that our stomachs are means to an end, to service to our Christ. We feast when the bridegroom is present, fast when he’s absent. Our stomach is designed for the Christ-life, not the other way around.

It’s hard to see that in our little corner of the human story. If we could, in fact, “turn these stones into bread,” would we see it as an opportunity to defeat the Serpent with the Word of our God? Or would we see it as just another buffet?

We live in a fearful and cowardly time. The crisis we face is not a crisis of clarity but a crisis of courage.


About Russell Moore

Russell Moore is Public Theologian at Christianity Today and Director of Christianity Today’s Public Theology Project.