In the movie, Eat, Pray, Love, Julia Roberts goes on an around-the world quest to find herself which includes having exquisite culinary experiences in Italy, the power of a spiritual experience in India and a meaningful love relationship in Bali. The movie, though, begins with a painful divorce and the leaving behind of what she had made of her life to date.
In and of itself, the movie has nothing to do with my faith or spiritual development. It is not something I want to pattern my life after. I want to say that upfront. I am not proposing that everyone go out and buy the movie. It is not the spiritual experience the title may infer.
However, it thinking about the title and the basic premise, it brought up a few analogies for me in my life and walk. The first and most obvious is the start of the movie. Julia finds herself in a life that is less than meaningful for her. She gives it up, leaves it behind totally and becomes a new and different person. This is true for us. In order to have something new and meaningful, we must leave the old behind. The old is not working. The old life needs to die, in order for new life to come forth.
Scripture says, “This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!” To belong to Christ we only need accept what His love did for us. Because we are a people who have sinner, done things against God’s law, we cannot enter heaven on our own. When we accept Christ’s sacrifice on the cross, He gives us entrance to His kingdom. When our eyes are opened to what Christ did for us because He loved us, then we willingly do what He asked of us. This means, the old way of doing things selfishly, must be gone. In its place is an emphasis on what God wants from us. And in that sense things that have no meaning are replaced with those that have meaning. God’s Holy Spirit is living inside of us. We put the old aside and willing take on the new.
Now the title of the movie. First, eat! I like eating, probably a little too much, but I do like it. Eating is necessary for life. If we did not have the proper nourishment as a baby, toddler, child, teenager, we wouldn’t survive. I’ve seen mothers give their babies kool-aid or soda in their bottles. It makes me want to scream, “What are you thinking?” Babies need milk. Children need proper nutrition and that doesn’t mean fast food five days a week. As adults, we need proper balanced nutrition to survive. If not, our bodies will be out of balance. The decay process will be heightened and when it has come to full fruition, our life will end.
We need that nutrition spiritually, as well. The scriptures say: “Taste and see that the Lord is good.” The Old Testament says that the law of the Lord is sweeter than honey from the honeycomb. Jesus says he is the bread of life, the living water. The point is we need the Word of God and the presence of God to live, really live, with abundant life. Food gives sustenance. Gourmet food gives momentary pleasure. The Word of God gives a full and happy life, forever.
Second, pray. This goes without saying if you do step number one, which is to ingest the Word of God and have the presence of Christ through the Holy Spirit living in you. Of course, you want to pray. You want to stay in touch with the One who has changed your life from the old to the new. You want to talk to Him, which is all prayer is anyway, a time of quiet reflection or earnest entreaty for His will to be done on earth. We should pray for healing, whether it is physical, mental, emotional or spiritual for others and ourselves, as well.
Third, love. Again, when you think about it, this is a no brainer. I’m not talking about finding some guy who lives in an exotic Bali home on the water, who loves to go boating every day and lounge around with his new love. I’m talking about sharing the kind of love God showed you with everyone you meet. What does that look like? It might be easier to say what it doesn’t look like. For me, it doesn’t look like tackling everyone you meet and shoving a tract in their face, crusading against certain lifestyles you think are wrong or conveniently forgetting to pay a bill. It does look like having meaningful conversations with those you meet throughout your day that are overcome by life’s circumstances. Or maybe it means just a kind word to a beleaguered grocery store clerk. It might mean signing a petition to support a cause you believe in or giving funds to help a legal cause that will further kingdom objectives.
Sharing our resources is a great way to love. There are those around the world, who have nothing. I remember a video I saw once that was a parable of two brothers. One was very wealthy. The other was extremely poor and was about to die. Their father implored the wealthy son to help the one who was struggling. The wealthy told his dad that he had made the money he had and that he wasn’t about to share it with a brother who couldn’t take care of himself. He added that his brother was an adult and that he could become wealthy just like he had.
The father in the story is God. The wealthy brother is those of us who live in the United States and are blessed beyond the rest of the world. The poor brother is the majority of the world who live in poverty. In reality, we don’t “need” everything we have. We can share with others in need.
What is love anyway? Where do we start loving? Why would we love another person who isn’t our family? Aren’t we supposed to take care of our families? The scriptures do tell us to take care of our families, but also clearly tells us we are to take care of those less fortunate. It actually says, “If anyone has enough money to live well and sees a brother or sister in need and refuses to help -- how can God's love be in that person? Let’s stop just saying we love each other. Let’s really show it by our actions.”
Eat, Pray, Love. I think that’s going to be my new mantra. Now that I’ve redefined it, maybe it will be yours as well.