Monday, July 26, 2010

Obedience or Legalism

Just thought I’d share that I recently got into a discussion with friends about the way I eat, being one of the crazy Christians choosing to actually follow Yahweh’s instructions in the Old Covenant as well as the New Covenant. They told me to be careful not to Judiaize or become legalistic. Now if I don’t eat with someone or look down on someone because let’s say they eat some bacon, then that is wrong for sure. Salvation is gained by the grace and mercy of God alone through the wonderful act of Jesus' sacrifice on the cross. Its not about us. After all we are all sinners, not one greater than another. Romans 3:23 says: "For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God."

However, I do think it is unwise to eat that bacon simply because it is disobedience to what Yawheh said. Is not disobedience sin? Leviticus 11:3-8 says: "Among the animals, whatever divides the hoof, having cloven hooves and chewing the cud—that you may eat. 'Nevertheless these you shall not eat among those that chew the cud or those that have cloven hooves: the camel, because it chews the cud but does not have cloven hooves, is unclean to you. The rock hyrax, because it chews the cud but does not have cloven hooves, is unclean to you; 'the hare, because it chews the cud but does not have cloven hooves, is unclean to you; 'and the swine, though it divides the hoof, having cloven hooves, yet does not chew the cud, is unclean to you. 'Their flesh you shall not eat, and their carcasses you shall not touch. They are unclean to you. "

I always thought that that term “Judiaizing” was referring to people telling others that they must do certain things, like eat a certain way or be circumsized to be a Christian, and that’s how you are saved along with what Jesus did (ie. when Peter was acting a fool and Paul reprimanded him). Many Christians will justify eating certain things though by quoting these verses in Acts 10:9-14: "The next day, as they went on their journey and drew near the city, Peter went up on the housetop to pray, about the sixth hour. Then he became very hungry and wanted to eat; but while they made ready, he fell into a trance and saw heaven opened and an object like a great sheet bound at the four corners, descending to him and let down to the earth. In it were all kinds of four-footed animals of the earth, wild beasts, creeping things, and birds of the air. And a voice came to him, Rise, Peter; kill and eat. But Peter said, Not so, Lord! For I have never eaten anything common or unclean. And a voice spoke to him again the second time, "What God has cleansed you must not call common."

Something my pastor has always taught me though is to read things in context. He says a great way to understand more about scripture and verses is to read 5 verses above and below the one you are talking about, and there you will usually see the bigger picture. In addition to that the last time I checked God's Word was unchanging, and Yahweh says what He means, and means what He says. Therefore I do not understand why as Christians we ignore atleast 1/4 of the Bible, especially when it makes good sense. 

If you read those verses in Acts further you will learn that Peter didn't even take the dream literally, he knew there was symbolism in it. The Lord used animals and the term unclean because it was something in Jewish culture that was automatically understood.  Acts 10:17 says, "Now while Peter wondered within himself what this vision which he had seen meant, behold, the men who had been sent from Cornelius had made inquiry for Simon's house, and stood before the gate. " The dream didn't have anything to do with food. It was referring to the Jews and the Gentiles, and the fact that Jesus came to die for all men and women.

Everyone is in different places in their walks with the Lord.  Everyday is a new day to serve him with our whole hearts. The Lord has brought me to a place of surrender with food. I realize that food can be a religion all its own to people, and they are not very quick to give up on old habits, especially if the gov't has been telling you all your life that something is good for you. Regardless, if you know something is bad for you, and on top of that the Lord said not to do it, and then is it ok? Is it a wise decision?

In the book of Romans in chapter 14 the apostle Paul did speak specifically about food. You can read the verses in completion to yourself, but basically what Paul says is that we are not to look down upon others because of what they choose to consume.  I wholeheartedly agree.  He says if want to be a vegetarian, great, and if you want to be an omnivore, that's great too, God is more interested in where your heart is at that time. What Paul didn't say was to totally disregard the Torah, otherwise known as the first five books of the Bible.

Paul was bringing the Gospel to Gentiles, and they did not know of the dietary guidelines.  They didn't have bibles like we do today, everything so conveniently written and laid out for us.  Paul didn't want these men and women fretting over whether they ate shrimp that afternoon for lunch.  He wanted to make sure they knew who Jesus was, and how they themselves can be saved. He knew more than anyone else how the legalism flowed through the culture.

Here though lies my point, as Christians we are to be salt and light. Stressing right now the salt part, we are to be preservers of life in a world that is so twisted, backwards, and lost.Yahweh gave us these guidelines not to be tyrannical, but to help us live in the world He created. He knows what is best for us, not just spiritually, but physically as well.

There is so much physical illness in the church, that need not be there. I firmly beleive that yes, the Lord allows certain people to go through certain situations for reasons that have absolutely nothing to do with what a person did.  I also believe that a lot of illness could be prevented if we looked at what Yahweh said in the beginning and just paid it some mind. Scientifically it all checks out as well.

When Yahweh made the world he gave us all that we'd ever need to sustain our lives. Then when sin entered the picture not just Adam and Eve fell, the world fell right along with them.  Yahweh set up this awesome food plan for His people so they could stay healthy, strong, and thrive simply because He loved them. Yes, from the moment we are born we begin to die, but until that time comes, when the Lord calls me home, I want be a good steward of what the Lord has given me. This body is not my own.

 It is true that we will never be able to keep all of the guidelines all of the time because we are a fallen people in a fallen world. Nevertheless, when the Lord grants us wisdom and knowledge about a particular area, I believe that we should do our best to listen.

1 comment:

  1. Hey Beautiful Friend,

    I agree wholeheartedly. Keep in mind some people are not ready to hear what the Lord reveals to you. He gives each of us a measure of faith. One of the things I've learned in this pilgrimage of faith in Jesus is to conceal what the Lord reveals to you until the appointed time. The wisdom He gives us is only meant to be shared with a few, which the Lord reveals to you in His perfect time. Let your words be few. All the other words you can blog for those who want to be challenged in their faith.

    I love you, Sis!