Does God Really Care?
The book is called "Holy Cow! Does God Care About What We Eat?". I began reading it this week because I was interested in seeing if the author came to the same conclusion Ben and I had. It's written by a young woman named Hope Egan who was raised in a modern Jewish family and who came first to believe Jesus is Messiah and then to recognize the validity of God's words for everyone who believes in him.
In the first chapter of the book, Hope summed up the quandary any believer feels when they try to read the Bible from start to finish in the belief that it really is the Word of God and is to be looked to and regarded as authoritative.
"I eventually committed my life to Jesus, but my journey was filled with confusion," she writes. "Whenever I asked questions, my friends always turned to the Bible as the ultimate information source. Their reverence for this book seemed extreme, but their wise ways of dealing with life's toughest issues hooked me. Since the Bible was the foundation for that wisdom, I was compelled to read it."
That is a powerful thing for a young Jewish woman to state, by the way. She was drawn to read the Bible because the Christians she knew had wise ways of dealing with life's issues.
What threw her for a loop was the fact that most of the things God spelled out that he wanted anyone who followed him to do were actually being ignored. All the instructions for celebrating Passover were right there in the Christian Bible just as in the Jewish Bible she'd grown up with, but none of her Christian friends - who seemed to be looking to the Bible for direction about everything in life - even mentioned Passover or seemed interested in God's way of living. When she asked why, she got what she termed "confident answers" saying things like "Jesus fulfilled that law so we don't have to". This was extremely confusing to her. In the end, her confusion boiled down to one big question:
Does committing our life totally to God mean turning over everything to his direction and control...or are there some things he gave directions about that we can safely disregard?
"Committed to doing God's will in all areas of my life," she writes, "I took the plunge and decided to give up pork and shellfish. Since the other areas that I'd submitted to Him (like money, work and relationships) had always turned out beautifully, I trusted that the pork thing would too."
She came to the conclusion that if she was going to say God was her Creator, Redeemer and Lord...she'd better place everything in her life under his control. Up to and including her favorite barbecued pork ribs.
"This book is not about doing something (or avoiding something) so that we can have a relationship with Him or be "saved"," she continues. "Rather, exploring this topic is a response to our faith. It arises naturally from our longing for obedience to God. Because we already have a relationship with Him, we respond to His love for us by seeking His will and wisdom in all areas of our lives - including what we eat. As redeemed people, we bear the most fruit when we submit our whole selves to our Creator. In other words, dietary issues are not the core of my faith, but they are the main focus of this book."
This is beautifully simple overview of something I have been trying to describe for years. In a few paragraphs, Mrs. Egan is pointing out the dilemma of what to do with God's commandments once coming to the belief that Jesus is the Messiah and the solution of following those ways out of love and gratitude. The question of whether to obey or not obey is not one of salvation. It's one of practicality: does God really care about all aspects of our lives coming under submission to his will?
And when his disciples asked him what this parable meant, he said, “To you it has been given to know the secrets of the kingdom of God, but for others they are in parables, so that ‘seeing they may not see, and hearing they may not understand.’ Now the parable is this: The seed is the word of God.
When I read this recently, this sentence jumped out at me. When Jesus spoke it, the word of God did not include the writings of Paul. Or Peter. Or James or Jude or John or Luke or Matthew or Mark. When the Seed was sown, it was the seed of what we call the Old Testament. The seed was sown to produce fruit in us, the fruit of love for God and obedience to him.
Jesus was teaching his disciples about what we today abhor and call "the Law".
"The ones along the path are those who have heard; then the devil comes and takes away the word from their hearts, so that they may not believe and be saved."
According to Jesus, God detailed his ways for us so we may absorb those ways - write them on our hearts! - and be saved. That is the foundational characteristic of all God's words: to save us. Sometimes God's words have been given to save us from physical death - as he saved Noah and his children. Sometimes God's words are given to save us from bad things like sickness and strife and sorrow - like his commandments governing Human marriage relationships. Sometimes God's words are given to save our very souls - the essence of our beings that he has promised to make immortal if we will only come to him in complete trust and believe he is God and his son is our Savior who has become the way we can get to him in the first place. He is the Human personification of the Word of God, as if we took those Torah scrolls Moses wrote to God's dictation and manifested them into a Man who could walk and talk and eat and explain what God was really saying.
More from Jesus' explanation of his parable of the different soils:
"And the ones on the rock are those who, when they hear the word, receive it with joy. But these have no root; they believe for a while, and in time of testing fall away. And as for what fell among the thorns, they are those who hear, but as they go on their way they are choked by the cares and riches and pleasures of life, and their fruit does not mature.
These people are not willing to submit everything to God. They don't devote all the space of their heart to God's seeds growing and bearing fruit. They want to withhold the cares of their everyday life, to keep their lives separate from their salvation. I would go so far as to say these two soils are examples of those who believe that because they are saved, they are free to go and concentrate on anything that seems good to them without regard to the seed of God's Words. They believe having the seed is enough and are not interested in submitting to the responsibility of nurturing and caring for it.
The only way for God's good seed to grow in our hearts is to give up what we would do and seek after what God would do! That's the way we water the seed so it will grow. It's the way we clear the weeds out of the ground so there is room. When I don't eat my favorite clam chowder because I believe God wanted something different for those who follow his ways, I'm turning away from a pleasure of this life for the sake of watering the seed that God in his grace and mercy scattered onto my heart. It's not enough for me to just have the seed: I want it to grow. I want to be a fruitful soil. Does this mean I can do anything to be good enough to receive the seed? Nope! But it does mean I can strive to do everything in my power to help it grow in me without choking it by going my own way.
Jesus finished by describing the kind of garden I want to be:
"As for that in the good soil, they are those who, hearing the word, hold it fast in an honest and good heart, and bear fruit with patience."
God, the Creator of the Seed, the Speaker of the Word, the Living Word, wants every single part of my life to be clear and fertile ground for his seed to grow in. He is a jealous God. He wants every part of my life devoted to him. That's what it means to be a slave to righteousness. It's what it means to love God with all my heart and soul and strength. It's what Jesus himself stated when he looked up to his father and said, "Not my will but yours be done."
So...does God really care what we eat? Absolutely! He cares about everything we do, because everything we do reflects what's in our hearts. He cares about every single action we take or don't take because everything we do betrays whether we are more concerned with what we want...or what he wants for us.
11/16/2014 09:31:42 am
Looking forward (presumptively) to a blog post concerning the reasons Paul and Matthew and Luke speak the way they do concerning the law, especially in regards to diet and circumcision. :)
11/17/2014 02:59:21 am
You know that's going to take me a while to write in between babies, right? ;-)
11/19/2014 10:15:50 pm
In response to your comment about the Mark passage, I humbly suggest that you look at the original Greek before making so serious an accusation as the idea of someone adding their own thoughts to a translation of the Bible. If that were the case, it completely destroys the idea that the Bible is accessible to anyone, and suggests that you're going to have to research everything before you believe it....because if there's one error, than there could be any number of "personal opinions" That being said, I do recognize that some of the more modern Bibles have completely strayed from the original Greek/Hebrew, but that's clearly not what you are talking about. I found it interesting that the comment, which you cast doubt on, "making all meats clean" IS in the original greek, though the term meat was better translated food. But the word for declared clean, katharizō, is actually used twice, at the beginning and the end of the phrase. So I would conclude its pretty important.
11/20/2014 12:53:33 am
Ben and I have actually been carefully going through the original Greek of the Gospels. This is not an accusation and it's not an invalidation of the Bible. However, any time you declare something that God has said to now be null and void, that passage had better be very carefully scrutinized. To declare anything God said to be "done away with" is a serious accusation indeed! To say that Jesus our Messiah nullified a command of God is an overwhelmingly serious accusation because that would actually call his qualifications to BE Messiah into question. So this is an incredibly serious situation, the reading of this verse.
11/20/2014 12:57:27 am
Also, this does not destroy the idea that the Bible is accessible to anyone. It is completely accessible. It has always required thought and study to understand.
11/23/2014 12:43:12 am
Thanks for taking the time to answer my comment so quickly....I know how busy life is with little ones! I want to apologize if it felt like I was attacking you. It was not my intention. I meant it as an "iron sharpens iron" sort of challenge. But in light of some recent comments, I'm sure its a sensitive area. It was something I heard about second hand, and didn't actually see myself, so I had forgotten. There will always remain the dilemma in written word, of misconstruing intent because of the absence of body language and tone!
11/23/2014 02:06:00 am
Just have time for a quick post right now, but wanted to say i really appreciate this morning's comment and recognize that it's very tough for genuine tone to carry through in writing! I'll answer better later, but for now I'm sorry to hear Miriam isn't sleeping well and definitely appreciate how that can make brain function get fuzzy fast. I start to forget words in my sentences when the girls have kept me up for a few nights...
11/23/2014 02:27:44 pm
Okay, back from the busy day! Comment fields have a limit of how many characters I can fit in, which is probably good...
12/4/2014 12:06:01 pm
12/5/2014 03:02:48 am
Remember when you had that conversation a long time ago with Ben and he was being very scholarly and you just handed him a Bible and said, "I can't answer you...why don't you read it for yourself?"?
12/5/2014 03:11:05 am
I forgot something:
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Wife of Benjamin and mother to two wonderful little girls who are getting bigger every day. Enjoys writing down thoughts and discussions we are having within the family and sharing them with whoever is interested in reading.
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