'(I)t should be obvious that Isaiah 55 is not really talking about junk food. It’s junk ideas – and they usually attack us when we’re unfocused, when we’ve been working and dealing with all of the stuff life brings to us, and then the junk idea gets us. Junk ideas about God get in and fill our exhausted brains.'
The Third Sunday in Lent
March 20, 2022
The Rev. Maurice C. Frontz, III
Text – Isaiah 55:1-11
Sometimes, after I’ve been preaching on a particularly hard saying of Jesus, you will hear me say something like this: ‘Well, of course it’s difficult. If it weren’t, he wouldn’t have had to say anything about it. He never had to tell us to eat food when it is sitting in front of us.’
Well, turns out I was wrong, for in Isaiah 55, God urges the people to eat and drink the best food, for free, and says, ‘Why do you spend your money on that which is not bread, and your labor for that which does not satisfy?’
Turns out that we indeed have to be told to eat. But God doesn’t need to tell us to eat junk food. Others can manipulate us into doing that.
It usually happens when we aren’t thinking. That’s why the junk food is on the end of the aisles at the grocery store. Because when you’re in the aisles, you are thinking about getting the stuff on your grocery list. Yogurt, granola bars, fruit, rice, all the stuff that you’re supposed to eat. But you get to the end of the aisle and for that moment when you’re between the aisles, you stop thinking and at that moment the junk food jumps out at you. And suddenly amid the yogurt and the granola there’s the bag of chips and the 2 liter of soda and the Little Debbie snack cakes.
The junk food gets you when your brain is tired and relaxed and unfocused. That’s why Taco Bell ads are run at 10 p.m. You don’t eat Taco Bell when your brain is working. But you have worked all day, and you’re in front of the T.V. Suddenly Taco Bell comes on, and just as suddenly you’re in the car headed to Taco Bell. And then at 2 a.m., you’re regretting your decisions in life. But the same thing will happen next week.
I decided to be a little bit lighter today because the sermons have been very serious the past few weeks. But it should be obvious that Isaiah 55 is not really talking about junk food. It’s junk ideas – and they usually attack us when we’re unfocused, when we’ve been working and dealing with all of the stuff life brings to us, and then the junk idea gets us. Junk ideas about God get in and fill our exhausted brains.
Ideas like this:
God doesn’t really care whether I do this or that.
I’m doing pretty well in following God’s rules, but those people over there are in trouble!
I know the Bible says God forgives sins, but my sin/their sin is so bad that it can never be forgiven.
God doesn’t do anything about my problems or the problems of the world.
I don’t hear God speaking in my heart, so that must mean he doesn’t speak.
And so forth.
These ideas and those like them get into our heads, and they are unhealthy. Just as unhealthy for our spirits as junk food is for our bodies. What we fill our ears with is at least as important as what we fill our mouths with. So we have to be aware of what happens. We have to be aware that when we are not conscious of them, junk ideas can creep in and take up residence in our hearts. And we need to hear God’s word, which can make us healthy in mind and spirit.
After the food metaphor, Isaiah records God as saying, ‘Incline your ear to me; listen, so that you may live.’ His words are life-giving, and the junk ideas that fill our minds tend towards death. We need to listen to those promises which God gives, the promises of forgiveness of sin, deliverance from evil, and resurrection of the dead.
But it’s not enough to listen once and presume we’ve got them. Those junk ideas are pesky. It’s not enough to eat one good meal and then presume you’re going to be healthy for the rest of your life. Instead, you’ve got to make a habit of it. The same goes for listening to God’s word.
I love it when people tell me, ‘Oh, yeah, I went to church and Sunday School as a kid. I learned all of that stuff, so I don’t really need to come to church now.’ What if a person said something like, ‘I ate a few years ago; I’m good!’
Or even, ‘Yeah, I took a bath a year ago. Why are you standing over there?’
‘Seek the Lord when he may be found; call upon him when he is near.’ We need to listen and cling to God’s promises and do it now. I saw one of those questions on Facebook that you’re supposed to answer in the comments: ‘If you were going on a diet tomorrow, what would your ‘last meal’ be?’ One of the commenters said, ‘Start tonight! Don’t wait!’
We associate healthy food with a lack of taste; good ideas and behaviors with a lack of enjoyment. But God’s promise is of wine and milk and rich food. We will benefit from focusing on the promises of God, and from listening to his word. Once we develop the taste for it, it will satisfy us our whole life long. Let us begin and not wait! There is none other that can satisfy.