"Tree Fall" features college-focused stories, tips, and inspiration for living Christian values in our broken world.
“All things are lawful,” but not all things are helpful. “All things are lawful,” but not all things build up.
1 Corinthians 10:23 (ESV)
“You are what you eat.” If that really were true, college campuses would be filled with walking beer cans and scruffy bowls of ramen noodles. Is there ever a worse diet than the college diet? It’s expensive to eat well, which is why “eating healthy” gets pushed aside during college. I cringe thinking about my meals back then. My average diet was almost exclusively Papa John’s pizzas and Hungry Man microwave dinners. The latter of which was advertised solely on how much it weighed. The Hungry Man box promoted, “Over 1 lb. of food!” I had other things on my mind – too much to focus on something as insignificant as what to eat.
In the New Testament, Paul wrote a letter as a plea to unify the believers of Corinth. First Corinthians is a fascinating book, especially as it deals with hypocrisy in the church. In the midst of his argument, something he wrote stood out to me. He said, “So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all for the glory of God” (10:31). I’m sure you’re already seeing the connection, but let me set the stage as to why this passage resonated with me back then.
In my senior year, my roommates and I discovered Burger King’s Buffalo Dipping Sauce. This amazing condiment goes well with everything. Chicken fingers (of course), burgers, french fries, carrots, fish sticks, Hungry Man turkey things – they are all improved with even a small dollop of Buffalo Sauce. We’d grab extra packets each time we went to BK, but even so, supply was always limited back in our room. That’s when we decided to try making our own. After all, the ingredients were right there on the package. We just need to figure out their quantities.
We had many of the ingredients handy and just improvised the others. Key to the whole recipe was an egg, which based on our understanding of chemistry, would be our binding agent. We put things like vegetable oil, red pepper flakes, maple syrup, vinegar, sugar, salt, garlic, onion powder and a few other things I can’t remember into a sauce pan. Then we cracked an egg into the mixture just as it was heating up. The egg instantly solidified, turned brown, then mutated the entire sauce. As it bubbled up, my roommates jumped back in horror, but I was diligent. Stirring, I realized how firm the mixture had become. With extra effort, I forged ahead, whipping the wooden spoon back and forth to break up the solid brown/red mass, at least enough to scoop it into a bowl.
It was time for the taste test. The consistency was, um, not right. Instead of a creamy, smooth sauce, it looked more like what’s left on the stick after you use it to scrape gum off your shoe. It was thick. More than thick. I think we could have used it to repave the parking lot.
We cooked some hot dogs and took turns dipping them into the “sauce,” then on the count of three, we all took a bite. My roommates spit theirs out instantly. Not me. You see, my pride was on the line. This was my idea; I’m the one who was confident enough to make it. Instead of spitting it out, I chewed a little more, hiding the grimace I could feel welling up in my face. “I think it’s pretty close,” I said. “It’s not bad!”
And to reinforce my lie, I sat down at the table to finish the hot dog, using it to scrape off another layer of “sauce” with each bite. As I finished that last bite, taking particular note of the sauce’s distinctive crunch, I remembered Paul’s words. Whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do for the glory of God. I licked my lips, letting the flakes of brown tar fall from my mouth. Did I glorify God with my meal?
So often, we bucket “glory” into certain moments of our lives. We think, yes, we can glorify God by using our God-given talents. We can glorify God by worshiping on Sunday morning. I certainly can glorify God by turning to K-LOVE during the commercial break on the pop radio station, right? I can glorify God by putting a dollar in the collection bin at the cash register. We all have moments like that – these little bursts of glory. But are we using our entire lives to glorify Him? And in this example, when we sit down to eat, do we think how it could bring glory?
The word “glory” in that 1 Corinthians passage is the Greek word “doxa.” Doxa is a term that New Testament writers use to evoke a sense of honor or as a way to establish inherent, intrinsic worth. The same word appears in Revelation 4:11, which says, “You are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things…” Glory, or doxa, in this context underpins the word’s true meaning: declaring our gratitude to God for his provisions.
Let that sink in. We have been called to give glory, but more importantly, this call means doing everything in a way that declares thanks to God. As I sat there staring at my homemade buffalo-flavored bile, I thought about whether my consumption of it was thanking my Lord and Savior for all He’s given me. He has cared for me, protected me, sheltered me, given me hope, provided peace. I owe Him my thanks, which I can express through my actions.
Whatever you eat or drink, do it for the glory of God. And if your Buffalo Sauce isn’t glorifying Him, it’s time to rethink some decisions.
What do you think? Let me know in the comments below!
- What’s an example of something you’ve done, that while innocent, probably didn’t glorify God?
- What is something you could do right at this very moment that could glorify – and give thanks – to God?
- 1 Corinthians 10:6-33