Thank you for joining me in this search of what the Bible says about food. If you missed the introduction, click here, the first lesson (“Do Not Worry about What You Will Eat”), click here, or the second lesson (“Do Not Labor for Food that Perishes”) click here.
Let’s dig in:
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.) Mark 7:18-19 ESV
In context: The Pharisees taught that what a person does or eats or allows to enter his body (in this passage through not washing hands before eating) affects a person’s spiritual state, making him unclean. Jesus countered and said that nothing outside a person going into him defiles him. Only what is in the heart defiles a person.
My Thoughts: I don’t think this passage gives permission to eat anything indiscriminately. The point is that what I eat will not affect whether I am right with God spiritually.
I’ve seen too many “real food” blogs in the name of Jesus imply that our eating organic, whole foods is a sign of some sort of righteousness. They don’t say that, of course, but the undertones are definitely there. And I don’t think it’s purposeful. Attempts to please God through what we do is not new. The Pharisees did it and took it to a self-righteous extreme. But even those with the purest of hearts in the New Testament asked Jesus “What must we do?” (Luke 3:10, John 6:28)
It’s much easier to check “take care of my body” off my righteous checkbox than to live resting knowing Jesus IS our righteousness and he is enough.
We know God created these bodies and called them good. We know God created whole foods and called them good. We know God knows what makes our bodies work most efficiently.
I have a desire to take care of my body so I can be healthy into my sunset years simply to be able to serve God all the more. There is nothing wrong with that.
But we can very easily slip into this prideful existence where we are “above” those who choose to eat Cheetos and Coke for lunch. We can begin to look down on those with medical conditions typically caused by an unhealthy lifestyle. All of this pride slips slowly and undetectably because it starts with good intentions.
Isn’t that how the crafty serpent has always worked?
There’s this unfortunate chasm that is separating the “haves” and the “have-nots” once again. The “haves” can afford to eat healthy, and the “have-nots” are thankful when there’s food on the table. With which would Jesus be most pleased? A plate full of roasted organic veggies on the table of a person prideful in her ability to grow or buy it, or a bowl of Ramen Noodles on the table of the person who was thankful to God for the quarter He provided to buy that meal?
I think his reaction would be the same as it was to the Pharisees in Mark 7.
Chime in: How can we balance trying to make healthy choices while not looking down on those who do not? Do you struggle with not being able to afford to eat as healthy as you’d like? How does this verse give us the freedom to know that we aren’t less right with God based on what we eat?
Reflect: What is your first thought when you’re in line to check groceries out and next to you is a person with a basket full of cheap, unhealthy food? Is it judgment? Or is it compassion?