Pizza That Perishes Or Bread That Endures
Do not work for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give to you. For on him God the Father has set his seal. John 6:27
Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst. John 6:35
I worked hard all week. I meal planned, cooked healthy meals, ate the healthy meals, fed my family healthy meals, worked out and trained others, taught a little human how to live and took care of her needs, and was mostly patient with my family. My husband worked hard too, making games and fonts and serving the church through music. We deserved a pizza night. We deserved a treat night! He came home with Little Caesar’s cheesy bread sticks and pepperoni pizza, and we ate and swooned and eye rolled over the intoxicating flavor combos of hot cheese, bread, and garlic while plopping down to watch one of our favorite shows. And then I got full. But the box of pizza still had over half of the slices left. I couldn’t just leave all those pizza slices to waste as leftovers, could I?
The only problem was that my stomach was full but my taste buds wanted more.
The only problem was that I stopped eating and then was mad that I had to “deny” myself more pizza.
The only problem was that I was working for food that perishes and it didn’t fully satisfy me.
And it becomes a problem when I rely on food in this way. I work for it and salivate over it when it is in front of me. I devour it and then become mad at it when it’s all gone. I turn food into an idol by looking to it for satisfaction. And when I turn it into an idol, this food will always disappoint because I will always want more. I may not “look” like a person who tends to idolize food, but my mouth does not always reflect the inward dialogue.
Jesus is the Bread of Life that Endures
After feeding five thousand men plus women and children, the people continue to follow Jesus around wherever He goes. He’s like the adult ice cream truck that gives out free treats, and they all want a piece. Jesus calls them out on this and says, “Truly, truly, I say to you, you are seeking me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate your fill of the loaves. Do not work for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give to you. For on him God the Father has set his seal” (John 6:26-27).
Bread perishes, bread of life endures. Perishable bread has an expiration date. It has enemies like mold and worms and oxidation (see also Matthew 6:19). Perishable bread is a product for life, but it does not give life. The people needed to eat just like us, but they sought the bread instead of the person of Jesus. They were seeking perishable bread, not the imperishable Son of Man.
I was seeking perishable pizza, not the imperishable rewards from Jesus. How much more satisfying would it have been to hear from the King of the Universe, “Thank you for being faithful this week as I am faithful to you. Now please, go and enjoy a piece of pizza and celebrate with your family.” Instead, I heard the pizza say, “You have worked hard this week. You deserve this deliciousness. Eat more!” And I told the pizza, “You’re so good. But I should not eat any more of you. Why do you taste so delicious and have so little nutritional value? Now I’m just mad that I can’t have an unlimited amount. Go back in your box. I can’t even stand to look at the sight of you!”
What, you don’t have the same conversations with your food?
As Lysa Terkeurst says in her book Made to Crave*, I become “enthralled by buttered bread while yawning through Your daily bread.” Eating pizza is a temporary, singular experience that begins in the mouth and ends at an empty plate. The end result of eating pizza is more energy (and more energy stored). Eating pizza knowing that it is a gift from God, from Jesus, the imperishable bread, begins with gratefulness in the heart, is lived out by eating, and ends in eternal life where we will feast with Him face-to-face at His table (Matthew 8:11).
Working for God
”This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent." - John 6:29
In my mind, I worked hard. When my head hit the pillow each night, I was exhausted. When I forced myself to wake up early and write, it was a struggle, it was work. But the work of God that Jesus refers to is about believing. Believing “in him whom he has sent” means waking up early and going to bed tired in full belief that I do not accomplish anything good from my own energy but by the strength the bread of life, Jesus, provides.
My reward in working for God is to know Him better; it is a whole experience and ends in completeness: “for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing” (James 1:3-4). Eating pizza (or not eating pizza) in faith turns into steadfastness, which turns into completeness. Food alone can’t give me that.
I used to wonder what it would be like to take part in God’s miracles of the Bible, like seeing mana rain down from heaven or to be in the crowd of the 5000. As I took communion at church as I was thinking about Jesus being the bread of life, He showed me that I do take part in these miracles every time I take communion. He is the manna that God sent to us from heaven, and I can practice this belief in Him, can do the work of God, through communion every week. As I walked out of the church service that day, I saw children from the kids’ church carrying paper bags with paper fish and loaves as their craft for the day’s lesson.
I can remember that God provides me food to eat just as He did for the Israelites every time I put a piece of food in my mouth, knowing that He not only sustains my body but fills my soul.
I can remember that the work of God is to “believe in him whom he has sent” and quit trying to do things of my own strength and rely on the Jesus, the bread of life.
Have you ever had a conversation with your food like I did with the pizza? What was the dialogue, and how did it end? Pray for the perspective to treat food as a gift. Remember that Jesus has authority over all and gives you authority to master the temptations of food and say no to food and yes to the Lord when needed.
What is “the work of God” in your life? How can you rely on Jesus more? You can remember that Jesus is the bread of life and your strength every time you take communion and each time you take a bite of food.
* TerKeurst, Lysa. Made to Crave: Satisfying Your Deepest Desire with God, Not Food. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2010.