Dialogs and Commentary

How Then Shall we Eat?



In response to the modern Christian fad of emphasizing some goofy diet, or taking a particular new kind of vitamin, or going kosher, or eating only raw foods--or whatever; as a means to advance the spiritual life; often by ministers or members selling elixirs, vitamins, or books along this line.

Mark 7:18-20 (Jer) "Do you not understand..? Can you not see that whatever goes into a man from outside cannot make him unclean, because it does not go into his heart but through his stomach and passes out into the sewer?" (Thus he pronounced all foods clean.)

Jesus ridiculed fastidiousness about diet. Back in the First Century, it was all about what you ate, and how you prepared your food, and how ritually clean your hands were when you did. Jesus makes the point that what and how you eat physically has little, really, to do with life; it is what you eat and digest spiritually that matters. You can have a perfect diet, and if you are consumed with hatred or bitterness or anxiety or lust, both your physical and spiritual life and health will be a wreck. What flows through organic tubes in your body does not make a person "unclean", but rather it is what is in the heart that matters. Eat a great diet cooked to perfection... and burn with lust, and live miserably now and in hell later. Better to eat poison (Mr 16:18) and have the manifest fruit of the Spirit... and live in joy now and heaven later.

Jesus is not suggesting we be cavalier about diet, or test the Lord in any sense. Gluttony is a sin, so is neglect of care for the body. But in the USA we are way to niggling and fastidious, straining out dietary gnats and swallowing spiritual camels. Jesus' words come in stinging rebuke to our carnal focus. He pits over-focus on diet as a competing interest to seeking Him as the source and way to really live "life, and that more abundantly!" (Jn 10:10)

Mark 7:18-21 (NAS) And He said to them, "Are you so lacking in understanding also? Do you not understand that whatever goes into the man from outside cannot defile him, because it does not go into his heart, but into his stomach, and is eliminated?" (Thus He declared all foods clean.) And He was saying, "That which proceeds out of the man, that is what defiles the man."

In other words, "Food goes in one-end and out the other". Life or defilement-of-life come principally from within, not from what we put in our mouths. I like the NIV here:
Mark 7:18 "Are you so dull?"...

Is our "gospel" that in diet there is life? "Are you so lacking in understanding?" indeed.

John 21:9-13 (NIV) When they landed, they saw a fire of burning coals there with fish on it, and some bread... Jesus said to them, "Come and have breakfast." Jesus came, took the bread and gave it to them, and did the same with the fish.

The latest diet fad among charismatic churches is that cooking food is evil. Studies using mice and cats prove the case that cooked foods are carcinogenic in rodents. Well, "Duh!" Cats and mice do not cook food, and so when they are fed unnatural foods for them it is hardly surprising that they have trouble. Are we really so dull? Imagine it, Christians who are being called into the higher life encouraging each other to eat like mere animals? In any case, Jesus ate cooked food, such as baked unleavened bread and roasted lamb. The Son of God even cooked a breakfast for His disciples--as recorded in John 21:9, above. If those poor hapless disciples had only known then what we "wise ones" know now, they could have rebuked Jesus for not knowing better than to cook food and thus poison the disciples with carcinogens!

1Cor 1:19-21 (NIV) For it is written: "I will destroy the wisdom of the wise; the intelligence of the intelligent I will frustrate." Where is the wise man? Where is the scholar? Where is the philosopher of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not know him, God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe.

So "be free" in Christ. Do not be a diet victim like the "dullard" Pharisees. Their temptation was over the "law" and ours is "health", but both were aiming at improving life through the diet and means of food preparation, and Jesus rebukes them and us.

Americans are the most diet conscious people in the world, and also one of the fattest societies. God will show the foolishness of the "wise", indeed. In France, Spain, etc. they "break all of our rules" (of diet and nutrition, both obviously pseudo-sciences) and do not exercise much and stay the same weight most of their lives. We, in our wisdom, are brought low... because our "wisdom" is bogus.

Mark 7:18a (NIV) "Are you so dull?"

For Christians, Jesus steers our focus away from such in no uncertain terms, and to the "things above". Stop looking at the things below, and look to the things God cares about.

Luke 12:22-31 (NIV) Then Jesus said to his disciples: "Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat; or about your body, what you will wear. Life is more than food, and the body more than clothes. Consider the ravens: They do not sow or reap, they have no storeroom or barn; yet God feeds them. And how much more valuable you are than birds! Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life? Since you cannot do this very little thing, why do you worry about the rest?.. And do not set your heart on what you will eat or drink; do not worry about it. For the pagan world runs after all such things, and your Father knows that you need them. But seek his kingdom, and these things will be given to you as well.

I view these as commands, "Do not worry about what you will eat or drink;" and not just if but what. For me, I have no option as a servant of Christ. I find His advise wise, I must admit, from a scientific perspective as well. But even if I did not, I call Him "Lord, Lord", so I must do what He says. "Seek His Kingdom" rather... and the rest will take care of itself.

1Tim 4:1-7 (NIV) The Spirit clearly says that in later times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons. Such teachings come through hypocritical liars, whose consciences have been seared as with a hot iron. They forbid people to marry and order them to abstain from certain foods, which God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and who know the truth. For everything God created is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving, because it is consecrated by the word of God and prayer. If you point these things out to the brothers, you will be a good minister of Christ Jesus, brought up in the truths of the faith and of the good teaching that you have followed. Have nothing to do with godless myths and old wives' tales; rather, train yourself to be godly.





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