Breaking Through: The Road to Freedom
by Virginia Forste
I have struggled with eating issues since adolescence. I would often eat to avoid my emotions like boredom or powerlessness. Each time I ate beyond fullness, I would enter a shame spiral. God created food for us to enjoy and nourish our bodies. Unfortunately, humans have a way of tainting the good things that God has made. Our culture has burdened food with moral implications. We talk about cheating on our diets if we eat a donut or we might tease a friend for being good if she orders a salad in a restaurant.
The problem was not that I lacked information. The problem was the more I learned, the more rules I imposed upon myself. Like the Pharisees in Jesus’ day, I had slowly adopted a “Jesus +” philosophy governing food. I’d burden myself in hopes that the next rule would be the one that finally solved the problem: Skip breakfast. Give up carbs. Stop eating after 6 pm. Give up sugar. Give up dairy. Go plant-based. Increase fiber. Eat good fats. Drink eight glasses of water a day. Exercise daily. Buried beneath those rules was an underlying statement of my value: If you aren’t 100% consistent with all of these rules, you are a complete failure and you don’t deserve anything good—especially a beautiful body.
Peter’s Dietary Rules
Jesus’ outspoken disciple and friend, Peter, had his own set of food rules. They were part of the Jewish traditions he’d grown up with. God gave Moses and Aaron specific rules against eating unclean animals such as camels, pigs, and rabbits (see Leviticus 11). By abstaining from these animals, Peter was a good rule follower.
Once, while waiting for a meal, Peter had a vision that shook up his beliefs. Check out Acts 10:9-16 to see what happened:
“About noon the following day as they were on their journey and approaching the city, Peter went up on the roof to pray. He became hungry and wanted something to eat, and while the meal was being prepared, he fell into a trance. He saw heaven opened and something like a large sheet being let down to earth by its four corners. It contained all kinds of four-footed animals, as well as reptiles and birds. Then a voice told him, ‘Get up, Peter. Kill and eat.’
‘Surely not, Lord!’ Peter replied. ‘I have never eaten anything impure or unclean.’
The voice spoke to him a second time, ‘Do not call anything impure that God has made clean.’
This happened three times, and immediately the sheet was taken back to heaven” (NIV).
Did you catch that? The Lord said, “Do not call anything impure that God has made clean.”
I can hear Jesus talking to us now: “Okay, we’re doing a new thing. Now that I’m here, you don’t have to follow the rules; you need to follow me. I will show you how to live. It’s not a checklist or boxes or a bunch of dos and don’ts. It’s about freedom and choice. Since the beginning of time, humans have had the opportunity to follow the rules and you just couldn’t do it.”
The Path to Freedom
Even if you choose to not follow God, you have an internal compass. You have a set of beliefs that define certain actions as right or wrong. As well-meaning as we are, we cannot even be consistent in upholding our own beliefs, let alone the standards of a God who is perfect (Matthew 5:48).
If we cannot overcome our struggles, why even try? Our failure to save ourselves necessitates a Savior. Thankfully, the Bible spells it out for us. We can stop trying so hard. Scratch that. We can stop trying. Full stop.
The apostle Paul explains this in Galatians 3:21, 22: “Is there a conflict, then, between God’s law and God’s promises? Absolutely not! If the law could give us new life, we could be made right with God by obeying it. But the Scriptures declare that we are all prisoners of sin, so we receive God’s promise of freedom only by believing in Jesus Christ” (NLT).
Author Rigel J. Dawson said, “Sometimes a problem is only a problem because we keep trying to solve it. Once you accept what can’t be fixed, it ceases to be a problem and simply becomes a reality that exists.”
Stepping into Freedom
I had an epiphany: My body isn’t a problem to be solved! Through Intuitive Eating, I am learning to reduce the influence of diet culture in my life. Like Peter the disciple, I am learning that no foods are off limits. My food choices do not define my moral standing. Through a Bible study on this topic, God showed me that he can free me from any form of bondage. His priority is my (and your) freedom.
The road to freedom begins with obedience. We need to humbly accept the help of Jesus and his powerful sacrifice. He did what we cannot do. One important way to humble ourselves before God is to be baptized. Have you been baptized? If not, what is holding you back? Rest assured; the law shows us that “we all fall short of God’s glorious standard” (Romans 3:23, NLT). Whether it is the church baptismal tub, a lake, river, ocean, or your backyard pool, there’s no wrong place to get baptized. (Except maybe the sewer. That’s a hard pass.) This coming Sunday at our church, Christ’s Church, in Mason, there will be an emphasis on “Baptism Sunday.” You don’t need a “professional Christian” to baptize you. It can be your parent, spouse, or friend. If you feel God calling you to get baptized, contact the church, and we’ll help make it happen. We’d love the opportunity to celebrate your first step into freedom in Christ!
This coming Sunday, our lead pastor at Christ’s Church, Trevor DeVage, will be talking more about this topic of breaking the law and the freedom that Christ longs to bring us. You can check out that message here.
Virginia Forste is a former elementary education teacher and stay-at-home mom who frequently blogs with other moms at textingthetruth.com.