I love bread.
Back when we lived in San Diego, I remember having a conversation with a friend about what made a sandwich a great sandwich. We both decided it was the bread. The quality of the sandwich rises and falls with great bread.
Most mornings, I enjoy wheat toast with Land ‘O Lakes butter — the kind made with olive oil and sea salt. Butter is important, but the bread is what makes the difference.
In 2000, I decided to give the Atkins/low-carb diet a try. Overall, it was successful. I lost about 25 pounds and felt really good. Most of the diet is right up my alley: meat and cheese.
But the hardest part of the diet was finding good bread. In those days, there simply wasn’t any good-tasting bread that was made for low-carb diets. I was convinced that most low-carb bread was recycled cereal boxes. Low-carb pizza crusts weren’t even recycled cereal boxes — they were the boxes with pizza sauce on top.
These days I’m no longer on the low-carb diet. But I have been gluten-free for two and a half years. My biggest hesitation in going gluten-free was whether or not I’d find good bread. After being assured it was possible by trustworthy people, I decided to give it a go and I haven’t been disappointed.
Believe it or not, there is good gluten-free bread. Since I once was a skeptic like some of you, I know how hard that is to believe.
Since most of my man friends are pretty simple people, let me put it in simple terms:
- Low-carb bread = bad.
- Gluten-free bread = good.*
As you may know, I’ve been time each day in John 6. It might surprise you to know that Jesus himself has an opinion about bread. In John 6, Jesus is discussing the importance of good bread with his Jewish audience. More specifically, he’s discussing the difference between true bread and false bread.
32 Jesus said to them, “Very truly I tell you, it is not Moses who has given you the bread from heaven, but it is my Father who gives you the true bread from heaven. 33 For the bread of God is the bread that comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.” — John 6:32-33
True bread. Not the fake, imitation bread that crumbles too easily and tastes like a buttered shoebox.
Fake bread will never sustain you. The fake bread Jesus is talking about had nothing to do with ancient grains; it was the false sense of security that is found in believing your religious system will save you.
Instead of giving life as the true bread does, fake bread is actually harmful. While it may not kill you immediately, it does discourage and inhibit the presence of real life. It fills the belly for a moment and then the moment’s gone.
In my low-carb days, I would find bread that looked like decent bread. It looked acceptable and possibly even enjoyable. But then you would try and eat it. I’d look back at the package and think, “They ought to be arrested for false advertising.”
That’s the very charge Jesus would bring against religious hypocrite:
25 “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. 26 Blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and dish, and then the outside also will be clean. 27 “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of the bones of the dead and everything unclean. 28 In the same way, on the outside you appear to people as righteous but on the inside you are full of hypocrisy and wickedness. — Matthew 23:25-28
Unfortunately, many people settle for fake bread even when true bread is offered them. Because we like shiny objects, we are drawn to the false claims that promise a better way to live. What we find is that they are as unsatisfying and bland as low-carb breads.
Jesus, on the other hand, is true bread … hearty, satisfying, and sustaining.
The diet of many Christians is woefully inadequate, even for those who attend church regularly. If all you do is to hear about Jesus and never feed on him, you will never experience the true bread “that gives life to the world.” To benefit from bread, you must eat it and digest it — not simply look at it.
How do you get started?
The best place to start is by reading the Gospels, the biographies of Jesus (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John). Read and re-read them. Take your time. There’s no award for finishing first.
As you read the words of Jesus, try to hear them like someone in the audience would have heard them. Try to hear them for the first time, even when they are familiar words. Read a few verses, stop, pray. Ask God to embed the words of Jesus in your heart.
Jesus promised that God himself will give you the true bread: “but it is my Father who gives you the true bread from heaven” (John 6:32).
* This depends. There are some bland-tasting gluten free breads. But with a little effort and perseverance, you can find the good ones. Personally, I like Udi’s and Kim and Jakes.