“THE JESUS DIET”
August 22, 2008
While much of the world is plagued with drought and famine, people in this country seem to be obsessed with dieting. In many parts of the globe a starving humanity begs for food while infants with bloated bellies desperately try to suck from dry breasts. Yet in this nation we search for ways to keep ourselves from overeating. The apparent disconnect is startling. America has an eating disorder, and so does the church. However, the root of our problem goes much deeper than our out-of-control appetites. Indeed, what we are choosing to consume is resulting in a population plagued with heart disease—spiritual heart disease. Amidst the plethora of diet fads which are currently flooding the market, my wife and I would like to offer something new, although in reality it has been around for centuries. Allow us to introduce “The Jesus Diet.”
A few days ago Babs was meditating on John, chapter fifteen, where Jesus talks about “abiding in me” (verses 4-7). The phrase “abide in me” literally means “to take up residence in.” Since Babs and I are both struggling to lose some weight her thoughts turned toward the subject of food. The following is an excerpt of her personal journal (used by permission) in which I believe the Holy Spirit inspired her thoughts about our spiritual diet.
So, when we are abiding in/residing in Jesus do [we] know where the pantry is? Do [we] know where the fresh fruit and veggies are? How about pre-packaged meals? (Another subject—they are nourishing but nothing like fresh and natural, and [they] often contain ingredients we don’t need or are not healthy for us.) Is there something in the freezer that needs to be thawed out so it can be eaten? [Do we] take [it] out early enough so when it’s time to eat/feast it will be ready? Jesus said to eat what is placed before you [Luke 10:7]. So, feast on what he has set before you and don’t complain about the spices he uses or ingredients you are not familiar with (ethnic foods).
Since Babs has graciously shared her thoughts with me and with others, I would like to add my own musings to the mix making this a sort of spiritual casserole, hopefully healthy enough for your consumption.
“It is written: ‘Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’” – Matthew 4:4. Do we truly know where the pantry is? If we do, then why do we so often ignore it opting instead for a worldly diet of television, the internet, computer games, and secular music? How about those pre-packaged meals? I’m talking here of Christian books, devotionals, televised church services, and Christian CD’s. It’s not that these meals are devoid of spiritual nutrition. Indeed they have much to offer. It’s just that they are nothing like fresh and natural, getting into the Word for ourselves and listening to what the Lord has to communicate to us personally.
A steady diet of consuming only pre-packaged meals, or frequenting fast-food restaurants, could lead to some serious spiritual mal-nutrition. Some of these meals contain ingredients which are not all that healthy for us. If these are our only sources of spiritual sustenance our health is in grave danger. Tragically, many of the churches in this country amount to spiritual fast-food restaurants serving up high-fat, high-calorie fare and leaving the patrons over-fed and undernourished. Some churches dish out more healthy meals than others, but even the best can only provide an incomplete diet. If our only source of spiritual nutrition is coming from attending church once a week, whether an institutional church or even a home gathering, we are in all likelihood severely stifling our growth.
I am reminded of the businessman who, pressed for time, decided to have lunch at a local buffet, one which advertised quick service. As he made his way down the buffet line he came across a bowl filled with some type of grayish-brown mush labeled simply, “ABC Casserole.” With an adventurous spirit he spooned a generous portion out and placed it upon his plate. After he had finished his meal, in record time, he asked one of the attendants about the unique casserole.
“We get a lot of business people in here who are very time-conscious,” replied the waitress as she gathered up the man’s dirty dishes. “So we have a crew in the kitchen that chews up a nutritious meal and then spits it out into a bowl. We call it ‘Already Been Chewed Casserole.’”
Now that I have thoroughly ruined your dinner allow me to spew out the analogy. Receiving all our spiritual meals from others who we pay to spend their time chewing up and digesting the Word and spitting it back out for our consumption is tantamount to eating “ABC Casserole.” Digging into God’s Word for ourselves is certainly more time consuming but it will result in far greater satisfaction and much healthier growth (not to mention less contamination from the often biased mouths of others). “Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation, now that you have tasted that the Lord is good.” – 1Peter 2:2-3.
Pulling food out of the freezer relates not just to taking your Bible off the shelf but also to unwrapping its contents and warming up forgotten truths in the oven of your mind. There may be some well known morsels of Scripture which we have long kept in cold storage that the Lord, as our Master Chef, desires for us to thaw out and place on our dinner plates. Doing so early enough so our meal will be well thawed out when we need it refers to beginning each day with preparing our spiritual food. Starting the day with Jesus and His Word allows our feast to be thawing out and slow-cooking in our spirits as its nutrients permeate every living cell of our lives. “He wakens me morning by morning, wakens my ear to listen like one being taught.” – Isaiah 50:4.
What does it mean to eat what is set before us and not complain about the spices the Lord uses to cook up our “daily bread?” I am a firm believer in reading through the Bible rather than staying with well known and beloved passages or opening up the Word at random. Every morning I read from both the Old and New Testaments coursing through the Word systematically in order. In so doing I insure that I am ingesting all of God’s Word, the veggies along with the dessert, the sweet along with the sour, that which tears down my pride along with that which builds up my spirit. I am guaranteed a balanced diet, healthy beyond measure, adjusted to perfectly match my personal calling, and abundantly satisfying.
Amazingly, this same diet is recommended for all, no matter what your maturity level, spiritual health, calling, or ethnicity. The Jesus diet is perfect for everyone and available free of charge. Best of all it is completely heart-healthy. Not only is it good for those who partake, it also produces a growing desire to see that others around the world are able to feast upon its goodness. Properly followed, this diet will take our minds off of our own over-active appetites and motivate us to reach out to those who are truly hungering and thirsting, both for spiritual food as well as physical.
Am I making you hungry yet? Please feel free to start feasting at any time. The Lord’s banqueting table is always set and piled high with food. However, I suggest you not try to devour this recipe in record time but rather take it slow, savoring every bite, allowing the taste of each delectable morsel to be seared in your memory. I wish I could take credit for coming up with this diet, but it was written down ages ago.
“Come, all you who are thirsty, come to the waters; and you who have no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without cost. Why spend money on what is not bread, and your labor on what does not satisfy? Listen, listen to me, and eat what is good, and your soul will delight in the richest of fare.” – Isaiah 55:1-2.
Bon appetit, my friends!
Bill, a child of God, more hungry than ever