The fact that we crave sweets is no surprise to anyone over the age of two. What is surprising, however, is how precisely food scientists have pinpointed our cravings.
To make any food taste better, just add a little sugar. Add a little more sugar and it will taste even better still, but only up to a point. Too much sugar and we start to feel the food has become “too sweet.”
The trick for the food manufacturers is to find that perfect amount of sugar for any given food that will make us really, really crave it. This is referred to as the “bliss point.”
The bliss point varies from food to food. It also varies with race and gender and is typically higher for children than for adults. Kids, as a rule of thumb, like their foods to be twice as sweet as adults do. This is why sugary cereals are so often marketed to youngsters. Some cereals are actually so sweet that they risk being relabeled as cereal flavored candy!
Over time, our foods have been slowly “optimized” for maximum flavor as the food manufacturers have gradually found the bliss point for nearly every food out there, then carefully targeted their marketing to the appropriate demographic.
Unfortunately, keeping our taste buds happy has come at a price.
Obesity is at all time highs, and in children, obesity has reached epidemic proportions. The current generation of children is the first generation with a shorter life expectancy than their parents, almost exclusively due to obesity.
Diabetes is up. Blood pressures are on the rise. Basically, the foods we love so much and crave so strongly are slowly killing us.
- What is your favorite food?
- Do you think of it as sweet?
- Have you ever looked at the label to see how much sugar it contains?
- Even foods we don’t think of as sweet such as bacon, hot sauce, and pickle relish often contain added sugar. Are the food manufacturers wrong for making their foods as delicious as they can by adding a little sugar, even if that might pose a long-term health risk?
- Aren’t they just giving us what we want?
The third chapter of the Gospel of John contains the most well known verse in the entire Bible, John 3:16. It is followed by several lesser-known verses that give it some context:
For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him. He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.
The passage clearly states that Jesus’s purpose in coming to Earth was not to judge, but to save. The judgment part has already happened. It is built into the system.
If you don’t believe in Christ, if you want to have nothing to do with Him, then fine, you get to have your way, but being separated from Him is the judgment. He is the lifeline; He is salvation. When you reject Him you reject your only hope.
Sadly, people have a hard time distinguishing between who is judging them and who is trying to save them.
For example, if a man goes into a casino with cash in his pocket and a smile on his face, the first thing the casino owners try to do is to judge how much of that cash they can get out of his pocket and into their own. If they judge the number to be significant, the man will get the VIP treatment – little perks to make him feel special and lower his guard.
They may even arrange for him to win a little, so that he starts to think of himself as “lucky.” When they judge that they have squeezed him for all that they can, say ten thousand dollars, they will give him a free room for the night and maybe a limo ride home in the morning, lots of little things to keep him happy and hopefully coming back. It is a good investment from their perspective.
When that same man starts to have financial problems and turns to his parents or siblings for help, one of them will likely raise the question about his gambling. Invariably, his answer will be, “Don’t judge me!” But the judgment and sentencing have already taken place; they occurred back at the casino; they are built into the system. The family member is simply trying to help in the aftermath of the gambling losses, yet somehow the gambler always manages to believe that the family member is his enemy and the casino owners are his friends.
We see a similar pattern play out with other vices:
- Are smokers happy to hear that smoking is bad for them?
- Do alcoholics want to be invited to an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting?
- Do drug addicts welcome interventions?
It seems clear that the judgment for something like smoking or drinking is built into system in the form of disease and early death. Why do you think that people who are addicted to these things would rather “shoot the messenger” than address the problem?
Let’s look at the rest of the passage following John 3:16 and see if we can find some clues.
This is the judgment, that the Light has come into the world, and men loved the darkness rather than the Light, for their deeds were evil. For everyone who does evil hates the Light, and does not come to the Light for fear that his deeds will be exposed. But he who practices the truth comes to the Light, so that his deeds may be manifested as having been wrought in God. (John 3:19-21)
And there is the answer to every mystery of self-destructive behavior you will ever encounter: Men love the darkness and hate the Light. We come prepackaged with a sin nature.
That sin nature will manifest in different ways based on age, gender, income, culture, and any number of other variables, but manifest it will. And when it does, Satan will be right there to cheer us on.
He has been doing market research on the human condition for thousands of years. He knows the “bliss point” for every sin. He has judged us to be weak, susceptible to his trickery, and an easy mark for his ploys. He has judged rightly, for so we are, all of us having “sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23)
The only question that remains is this:
When Christ comes knocking on the door of your heart, will you shoot the messenger or embrace Him?
This post is adapted from Life’s Big Questions: The Gospel of John, which encourages readers to examine all of life’s questions in the light of Scripture. Whether used for personal devotions, as family discussion guides, or in a study group, this series provides an invaluable resource for enhancing your spiritual walk.