Food, glorious food! It’s the time of year for eating. I imagine most of our Thanksgiving turkey gobbled up and the leftovers transformed into dishes like Real Simple’s recommendation: turkey barbeque sandwiches.
Food and Power
Food has power over our health. Earlier this week my husband, Dale, re-lived the poisonous side of food. His favorite meal, pizza, was ruined. It was, unfortunately, during the wee hours of the morning, at the start of our long drive from Los Angeles to home in Colorado. The food poisoning he experienced completely overhauled his body, leaving him weak, annoyed by the embarrassing inconvenience.
Food has power to unite us. Earlier this year Dale and I started a house church with another family. We have three rules, we eat together, we pray together and we share spiritual and financial resources together. The church has since doubled in size. Every week we rotate who will host, who will provide the main dish and who will cook up our “soul food.” So far, I’ve learned more about how to follow Jesus, more about love and unity than I’ve learned in years spent in my church pew. Even the kids participate.
Food and Gossip
One week after discussing gossip during house church, I was giving piano lessons to the youngest member, a ten year old boy named Peter. He told me a story about an annoying neighborhood dog, imitating the dog’s yeowl so convincingly that we both burst into giggles. Then, he paused and sheepishly looked up at me. “I guess I’ve just gossiped about him.” I explained that I wasn’t sure gossip applied to dogs, but I was glad he cared about speaking unkindly about others.
Our house church’s conversation of gossip took place in one of our first meetings. It was while we were polishing off these amazing crème brûlèe desserts. We ate and struggled together to come up with a definition for gossip. One teen daughter defined gossip as saying anything behind a person’s back that you wouldn’t say to their face. Two of the fathers agreed that gossip was that speaking when you’re not part of the problem or the solution. I read a few verses to share a Biblical idea of gossip.
One from Proverbs has since stuck with me, “The words of a gossip are like choice morsels; they go down to the inmost parts” (18:8 and 26:22). We batted around that “choice morsels” phrase trying to live in the metaphor. One twenty-something, made the observation that “choice morsels” of food go down into our bellies and are then distributed throughout our bodies. Just like food actually becomes part of us, so gossip becomes part of us. Gossip is often delicious. But like poisoned pizza: tasty when it goes down yet runs havoc through our veins.
When I gossip it changes me. What may have started as a small misunderstanding grows larger the more I share it. I become more vested in my point of view. Since that house church meeting, I’ve been using the Tasty Moral Test to watch my motivations before I speak of another person.
Tasty Morsel Test
1- Am I hungry for a treat or for a meal? I’ll often share or listen to something because I’m excited about a tasty little nugget, not because I’m really hungry to help, hungry to forgive, hungry to lay down my life for this person.
2- Will this knowledge sit in my soul as poison or nourishment? Once I share or hear this, will it help me love and sustain the people involved? Or will it leave me with a sour taste about them, poisoning my ability to help them?
3- Will I roil, churn and want to belch this stuff out? Crude as it may sound, one tried and true test for gossip is how quickly I want to unload it.
We need hearty soul food. With Christmas pressure to ramp up family and ministry activities we will be sorely tempted to put tasty little tidbits in our souls. Let’s nourish our souls with meals that sustain us so that we are healthy enough to share