Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Does God care about what we eat?


I always get a little excited when I see Christians interested in natural, wholesome food. I get even more excited when they blog about it.

One of my favorite bloggers and authors, Stacy, has a great little post, Simple Steps to Healthier Living, over at her blog, Your Sacred Calling.

I love this quote she included from the book, Health for Godly Generations.

“Health is synonymous with wholeness, or, the completeness that God created in us; it relates to holiness, because the state of our body and spirit do and should influence one another.”

I come across so many people who believe that God doesn't care about what we do with our bodies. We've been duped into thinking that we can divide out our lives into secular and spiritual. I, too, am struggling to overcome that sort of thinking.

I have so enjoyed reading the testimony and journey of Hope Egan, a Messianic Jewish author, over at Kyria.com.

As a new believer, Hope was encouraged to read the whole Bible and to take it literally. She did, starting with Genesis. She quickly came upon some things that disturbed her new beliefs. "It seemed a lot of Jewish things that were in the Christian Bible weren't in Christianity." She was used to things adding up, and this one didn't. "I was shaken because the Bible didn't reconcile with the way I saw Christians practicing their faith."

For most of us, the connection between God and food is a loose one; maybe we pray before eating or meditate during Communion. But ordinarily, the God we serve has little to do with the food we serve.

That's what confused Hope. Most Christians ignored Old Testament food laws. This became a stumbling block as she tried to grow in her new faith.

"I took in the Christian beliefs about eating pork and shellfish through osmosis. Even when I got in and read the Bible, I continued to ignore the Scriptures because it was easy to go with the flow. People smarter than me were eating these things."


Interestingly enough, I had come across the same things, felt the same way. There are many times when I have looked at the bible and wondered, "Why do Christians ignore these verses? Should I ignore them? Am I misunderstanding God's point here?"

I have a Christian friend who abides by the Old Testament diet. There are times when it is most inconvenient, and I know it might even be a bit embarrassing at times, but she endures for the sake of her family. She knows their health is important. I can't help but have the utmost respect for her as I watch her family bring every thought and deed before Christ. It is not tradition to them, even though she was raised on this diet and is now carrying it on in her own family. It is respect for the bodies God has given them stewardship over. I know she has spent much time in prayer, asking God if they should tweak or reform their diets. I know it is not something she takes lightly. On the other hand, she doesn't condemn others if they don't eat similarly.

Later, however, a chronic illness forced Hope to revisit the food issue. The only cure was a strict diet that eliminated common foods and ingredients such as sugar and wheat. She could no longer eat out; she learned to cook healthy and tasty meals from scratch.

"It was a huge blessing," she says. "My body healed, I lost a few pounds, and I began feeling better."

But a big question remained: How should she eat for the rest of her life?

Again, Hope turned to the Bible to see what God had to say. She sought the counsel of Christian doctors, scholars, and others who had done similar research. She was surprised to find an entire Christian subculture that followed biblical food laws, believing that the Hebrew Scriptures are still relevant. This gave her the confidence to study the food-related scriptures herself.


Do I really believe the Bible holds all the answers? Do I truly believe it holds the key to holy living? Why do Christians ignore the Old Testament? Why do we believe that "freedom in Christ" means our bodies are our own, and we can do whatever we want with them?

While it is true that we can "do all things", it is also true that "all things are not profitable".

"Everything is permissible"--but not everything is beneficial. "Everything is permissible"--but not everything is constructive. I Corinthians 10:23 (NIV)

The New Living Translation words this well, "You say, 'I am allowed to do anything'--but not everything is good for you. You say, 'I am allowed to do anything'--but not everything is beneficial." (Emphasis, mine.)

Surely God has a reason for the Levitical Laws of eating, right? Did He randomly choose clean and unclean, or is there something more behind it? This is where the technology of today catches up with infinite wisdom and insight of our Almighty God.

Further investigation showed that the classification of clean and unclean animals was part of an intelligent plan. Clean mammals have a "split hoof" and "chew the cud." These animals are herbivores; in other words they eat plants. Herbivores avoid many of the diseases, parasites, and worms that meat-eating animals acquire, so they are a healthier food choice for humans. Herbivores, like the cow, process their food differently than other animals. As the food works its way through their multi-stomach digestive system, the food is purified before toxins are absorbed into the animals' bodies.

Compare the cow to an unclean animal such as a pig (which has a split hoof but doesn't chew the cud); a pig's food goes to the stomach where it is directly absorbed during the digestive process. When you consider that pigs are omnivores—they eat everything: plants, dead animals, small rodents, garbage, and even feces—this is an important difference. Animals like the cow, chicken, or tuna were designed as safe food sources, and God designated these animals as clean. Others, like pigs, catfish, and vultures, were created to be scavengers to clean the environment and were designated as unclean. Hope learned that God's commands regarding clean and unclean animals weren't arbitrary but rather an indication of His love for us. (Emphasis, mine.)

Seeds of Restoration goes even deeper into the subject, clearly explaining verses that so many believe dismisses God's desire for us to eat clean, healthy foods. Give it a look, I am sure you'll find much "food for thought" there! (Also, read into the comments, as the writer answers many questions there as well!)

I have so very much enjoyed researching this topic. As I grow in my walk with God, He often brings to light things I have long ignored. So often, I am finding that things I once believed to be "gray area" are actually very black and white. God continues to point out huge chunks of my life I have clung to and been unwilling to turn over to Him.

I do not write or post any of this to stir debate. I am not one who cares for debate, really. Friendly, open, calm informed discussions? Definitely! Polite questions? Why, sure! I am so thankful for friends who have approached me with love to discuss marriage, parenting, children, education, health, fellowship, finances and many other topics and situations with an open bible and a prayerful heart. I have learned so much from friends and fellow bloggers who were willing to go to the Word of God with me and help me gain understanding into things I either completely misunderstood or may have never considered.

If you have some links you think I might enjoy looking into, please share them! It has been so great to hear from those of you who are on a similar journey! (And so many of you have been thinking along the same lines!)


More Links:
Check out Hope's book here.
I am currently reading through the Natural Christian Directory.

2 comments:

mommyto4blessings said...

Isn't it amazing how God cares enough about us to care about our health?! He gave us guidelines on how to eat so we can be as healthy as possible, and avoid disease and illness, and we ignore him! We, as Christians, should really examine our lifes, and eating habits, and really all of our habits, and make sure they line up with His. And I am preachin to the choir!

Leah said...

I'm really loving all these health/food topic posts! God has definitely been stirring my heart to revamp how I/we think about food/health and this is so fascinating to me. It amazes me how He puts things in our paths just when we need them, thank you!