Ministry of Love

The intention of this blog is to share Biblical messages at least on a weekly basis. Any response is appreciated. I do not expect everyone to agree with my interpretation of Biblical passages. I will try to respond with love and thoughtfulness.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Musings;07/21/08, How important is Food, by John.

Musings:07/21/08,How Important is Food?

Romans 14:12,13 says, "So then each of us will give an account of himself to God. Therefore let us stop passing judgment on one another. Instead make up your mind not to put a stumbling block or an obstacle in your brother's way." Paul quotes the Old Testament all the way through Romans, but he is also aware that we are under a new covenant, and he is aware that the Jewish Christians of his time were hanging on to their old tradition.

When you think about it, isn't it hard to stop believing something we have done for years and years is right even when it is proven wrong? Tobacco use is a case in point. Personally, I've eaten a few members of the nightshade family all my life, such as tomatoes and eggplant, but some time ago I was told they could intensify arthritic pain. I believed it, but I said, "That's doubtlessly true for some people, but not me!" I was emphatic about it. Years later, I suffered from arthritic pain, and one of my friends reminded me of the truth about the nightshade family. I decided to give it a try. It has been hard to cut out tomatoes and Irish potatoes, but I've done it as best I can. Voila! Most of my pain has subsided! But it is not easy to leave those things alone! Something inside me says, "Oh! Those tomatoes, potatoes and eggplants have got to be good for me!"

Many early Jewish Christians did not buy meat in the "shambles" because it might have been offered as a sacrifice in idol worship. It was unclean by Jewish teaching. Paul stepped beyond the law when he said, "I am fully convinced that no food is unclean in itself." Anyone going by the Old Testament teaching concerning food will call many of today's food unclean. For instance, shrimp, clams, catfish, ham and sausage, even lamb and mutton slaughtered in any way but the Hebrew kosher way.

If you go to the earliest admonition, prior to the Law, you find Genesis 1:29 which says, "I give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the whole earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it. They will be yours for food." That would make everyone vegetarian. The Bible has to be understood in its entire context.

We can't take an early statement and overlook a later one. Neither should we take the later one without understanding earlier ones. That requires a lot of study, prayer and contemplation for sure. We can't always depend on what someone else says is true. I John 4:1 says, "Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world." That's true for spirits, and it is also good for others things. My dad used to say, "Son, don't buy a pig in a poke!" Most people don't realize that the old cloth bags were called "pokes," but they were. If you bought an animal covered up with a bag, you could be buying a hound instead of a pig! I think he and I were looking at used cars the last time I remember his saying that to me.

Paul stated the eternal security of the believer in Christ many times, so in verse 15 when he said, "Do not by your eating destroy your brother for whom Christ died," he did not mean the person would be eternally lost. Obviously, he meant his spirit would be broken, his resolve to live for Christ would be weakened, and fellowship between them would be destroyed.

I suspect we would discover that most denominationalism among Christians is the result of seemingly important, but in reality, petty decisions based on tradition. I wonder if the Methodist Church would have started if John and Charles Wesley had been fully accepted by the Anglican Church? Campbell and Stone started a new church movement, and then they parted company over the use of instrumental music in worship. Right or wrong, we get so set in our opinions of right and wrong that we overlook the first clause of verse 15: "If your brother is distressed because of what you eat, you are no longer acting in love." Ah! There's the secret! We must act in love to please God and live at peace with each other! Sounds like "The Golden Rule," doesn't it? And it is an application of it. To treat others like you want to be treated requires that you love them like you love yourself!

When we stand before God, all that wasn't the result of our godly love is trash! Love one another is the essence of Biblical commands. In our daily diet, many old foods are good for us. Some aren't. When a dietary truth surfaces, we should pay attention to it. If others don't, that's not grounds for our hating them. New foods, (are there any?) are not necessarily bad, but they may be. Oprah has a "new" belief system. Being new doesn't make it good, but we need to love her just the same. Scientology has held many, if not all, of those same beliefs for years. None of them are new. (Maybe we'll address that another time). Thinking for yourself is good, but it can get you into big trouble if you don't include the only real God who led the Hebrews and further revealed Himself in Jesus. You omit history in your thinking when you leave Him out, and that's always a mistake.

Maybe I'll try those nightshades again, and I'll see if the pain returns. I'm not afraid to find out the truth.


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