Jesus and the Food Police

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You’re not eating right. I know, I know, you’ve been trying and maybe you’ve even made a few improvements lately. In an effort to appease the Food Police, you’ve even cut back on the fast food. But it’s not good enough. If you don’t believe me, just take a look on Facebook or tell a member of the Food Police how you’ve made the switch to skim milk. Trust me, by their standards, you’re just not measuring up. But don’t worry. Neither would Jesus. Or pretty much anyone else in the Bible for that matter.

Food plays an important role in our lives. You need food to live so that’s pretty important. But there’s a problem. More and more of it, we are told, is bad for us. Really bad for us. Kidney-shrinking, eye-bleeding bad for us. And so we try to eat healthy. Well, that’s when the Food Police come in to tell us that our alleged health food isn’t healthy enough and is making our kidney’s bleed and our eyes shrink. “You need,” they tell us, “fat-free skim milk that has been humanely taken from kittens. Only demons and Yankee fans drink regular milk.”

So much for eating healthy.

Food plays a pretty significant role in the Bible too. It shows up in one of the first stories in Genesis and plays a part in one of the last scenes in Revelation. And from food that falls from the sky to some kid’s lunch feeding thousands of people, we are reminded of the significant role it plays in human lives all throughout the pages of the Bible. Food certainly isn’t one of the Bible’s major themes but it sure does show up a lot.

Which leads me to a question. What would it look like if today’s Food Police, the one’s who are always reminding us that we’re killing ourselves, were around in Bible times? I think it would go a little something like this.

The Promised Land

“Go up to a land flowing with milk and honey; but I will not go up among you, lest I consume you on the way, for you are a stiff-necked people.” Exodus 33:3 (ESV)

But the Food Police disobeyed the Lord’s command for they had already committed themselves to avoid dairy. Also honey is too sweet and full of carbs.

In The Wilderness

In the evening quail came up and covered the camp, and in the morning dew lay around the camp. And when the dew had gone up, there was on the face of the wilderness a fine, flake-like thing, fine as frost on the ground. When the people of Israel saw it, they said to one another,“What is it?” For they did not know what it was. And Moses said to them,“It is the bread that the Lord has given you to eat. This is what the Lord has commanded: ‘Gather of it, each one of you, as much as he can eat. You shall each take an omer, according to the number of the persons that each of you has in his tent.’” Exodus 16:13-16 (ESV)

But the Food Police disobeyed the Lord’s command to gather and eat and said unto one another, “Do not touch the bread for it hath gluten in it. Also, doest thou knowest where the quail came from? Were they fed an organic diet? Playest thou it safe and come back to Egypt with us where we can enjoy the finest organic flax seed wafers in all the land.”

In The Wilderness Again

Now John was clothed with camel’s hair and wore a leather belt around his waist and ate locusts and wild honey. Mark 1:6 (ESV)

So the Food Police made plans that very night to have John sent to Herod and beheaded saying to themselves, “Locusts? Seriously? And who eats honey anymore?”

At The Wedding Party

Jesus said to the servants, “Fill the jars with water.” And they filled them up to the brim. And he said to them, “Now draw some out and take it to the master of the feast.” So they took it. When the master of the feast tasted the water now become wine, and did not know where it came from (though the servants who had drawn the water knew), the master of the feast called the bridegroom and said to him, “Everyone serves the good wine first, and when people have drunk freely, then the poor wine. But you have kept the good wine until now.” This, the first of his signs, Jesus did at Cana in Galilee, and manifested his glory. And his disciples believed in him. John 2:7-11 (ESV)

But the Food Police immediately drew nigh unto the jars and, testing them, discovered that they were in fact filled with wine and not Juicy Juice. Later that night, while eating many, many pieces of fried chicken they discussed with one another how much they did not approve of any miracle involving wine that did not also include a liquor store being shut down. And thus they went home but not before stopping along the way for a milkshake. 

Jesus On What’s Really Bad For You

And the Pharisees and the scribes asked him, “Why do your disciples not walk according to the tradition of the elders, but eat with defiled hands?” Mark 7:5 (ESV)

Pay attention to this part. I didn’t make it up.

And he called the people to him again and said to them, “Hear me, all of you, and understand: There is nothing outside a person that by going into him can defile him, but the things that come out of a person are what defile him.” And when he had entered the house and left the people, his disciples asked him about the parable. And he said to them,“Then are you also without understanding? Do you not see that whatever goes into a person from outside cannot defile him, since it enters not his heart but his stomach, and is expelled?” (Thus he declared all foods clean.) And he said, “What comes out of a person is what defiles him. For from within, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, coveting, wickedness, deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride, foolishness. All these evil things come from within, and they defile a person.” Mark 7:14-23 (ESV)

Not a lot has changed since the New Testament.

It’s important to eat smart. There really are a lot of foods out there that can hurt you. But if we’re not careful, we’ll find ourselves being just like the Pharisees in Jesus’ day – more concerned with what our food might be doing to our heart than what our heart is doing to us.

I eat a Paleo diet. But that does nothing for my standing before God. And I could have a heart attack tomorrow. My days are determined by God, not my weight or how many miles I ran last week. I try to eat healthy because it gives me more energy. However, that doesn’t mean that everyone has to eat like me. God made us all unique. In the body of Christ, our common bond is salvation by grace, not organic almond milk.

Eat healthy, by all means. Just watch how you view people who don’t quite measure up to your dietary standards. And don’t judge a book by its cover. Not everyone who weighs a little more than you think they should got that way because they ate too much. And sometimes a glutton can have a 30-inch waist.

If you put all of your attention on your dairy intake while neglecting the weightier matter of your heart, you might end up just like the Food Police from Jesus’ day.

Clean hands.

Fantastic diet.

And a dirty heart.

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