“Living to Eat or Eating to Live?”

“So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do everything for the glory of God.”

(1 Corinthians 10:31)


Have you ever heard the ironic phrase that human beings either live to eat or eat to live. Which one best fits you?  If food is readily available due to financial circumstances, or if you have to be on a special diet because of a medical condition, perhaps you may think of that phrase differently. However, whether you relate to the former or the latter, none of us can deny that all humans have to eat to sustain their lives. Food is indeed significant for human life. Food has developed, relating with human culture, environment, and history, and then each country or region has its unique food or dish.

Koreans were hungry and starving through the Korean War. So, their greeting words were, “did you eat breakfast?” Or, “did you eat lunch?” At that time, perhaps many Koreans looked for food to live. Nowadays, however, Koreans changed their greeting words, “what kinds of food did you have for lunch?” Or, “what kinds of food are we going to have for dinner?” Even in the city, there are many traffic jams during lunchtime because people drive around looking for “good restaurants.” To eat their favorite food, they make a line in front of the restaurant for more than one hour or drive up for a few hours to get it. In these situations, somehow, they seem to like living to eat. Whatever, all of us have to have food, at least in everyday life. The Scripture also shows us the importance of food in everyday life. God fed the Israelites “Manna” every day in the wilderness during their journey to the Promised Land. Jesus also used to feed people in his ministry. He taught us to pray, “Give us our daily bread” in the Lord’s Prayer. Such as, all people need daily food.

I was picky about food in my childhood. It caused me to be weak physically. However, my taste has totally changed after fasting for forty days in 2000. Through the fast, I learned to be grateful for food. I can eat everything except chili peppers. The problem I have is a food allergy to chili peppers. It is funny because I can’t eat most Korean food, which are spicy. I think that God may control my taste to be healthy and to live in the United States.  I remember that the Apostle Paul said, “Whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do everything for the glory of God” (1 Corinthians 10:31). Therefore, whether I can eat, or can’t eat, I give thanks to God.

Contrary to my childhood, I enjoy eating food, especially having food with good people together. Jesus also enjoyed having food with his people together. Actually, for Jesus, feeding people or eating food with his people was one of his important ministries. People used to ask him, “why do you eat and drink with tax collectors and sinners?” Jesus strangely answered them, “It is not healthy who need a doctor, but the sick.” But, we know that he became their friends, who were cast out from society. Such as, eating food together or sharing food with our neighbors is perhaps a critical food ministry. So, I appreciate food ministries such as the food pantry/ food shelf and potluck fellowship.

Since I have come to the U.S., I lived in a school housing unit at the Lutheran School of Theology for eight years with two roommates. I used to have food parties, inviting many people. Unusually I cooked Korean food. In the beginning, I invited my roommates, and their friends and my friends, and then the party became an international potluck later. I invited many students to the party. It became a famous party, especially for international students at the school.

Food is the love we share. Koreans say, “The people who eat together at a table are a family.” People’s warm hearts like to share food, which means that it is love. In the Lenten season, I hope you may think of people who need food and work on the food ministry. I pray for food ministers that God’s grace and peace be with them. I hope that all the people can enjoy the food that God allows, but with control and gratitude. “So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do everything for the glory of God.”


Pastor Jenny Lee