Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Real Food and Theology? Accept No Substitutes

Originally posted for Joyful Melody.

I was pondering aloud with dh the other day; wondering why it is that The Food Police seem to think that they need to convince the world that the food God gave us will kill us. Then, just phrasing it like that, I had an epiphany.

Adam and Eve ate the fruit in the garden because they believed they might be like God, and all the time since then we have been trying to prove that we are autonomous beings, not created, but accidental: We decide that God did not create us, we evolved - as though it is some great feat we should pat ourselves on the back for. "Hey, look at us! We single-handedly turned ourselves from a single celled organism into a walking talking human being!" We don't need to worship our creator, we can create gods for ourselves and worship them. It began with food (eating the fruit of the knowledge of good and evil), why would it not continue with food?

After all, we were created in God's image. God is a creator, and we long to create. You can see that in the fact that we love to build, to create art, to have children. The problem is not with our desire to create. God put that desire in us. The problem is that sin in us distorts that desire. Our desire to create mutates into a desire to create better than God does. It evolves into a desire to be solely independent of our Creator, left to only create and control.

So we see the food that God gave to us in nature, and we try to do one better. God said, "Everything that lives and moves will be food for you. Just as I gave you the green plants, I now give you everything. " We take corn and turn it into hydrogenated corn oil and high fructose corn syrup. We inject cows, chickens, and pigs full of chemicals, antibiotics, and hormones so that they grow faster, bigger, and "better." We spray poisonous chemicals to protect fruit from bugs, and so poison the honey that is a healthier, natural sweetener with natural healing and soothing properties. We take what is natural, what God gave us; and we twist it like sin nature twists us. And we have inexplicably rising rates of cancer, heart disease, genetic mutations (not the cool comic book kind, but the real and painful kind); just like the persistence of sin in humanity leads to social cancers like envy, theft, murder, and adultery.

We did not start eating real food for theological reasons. We learned through research and the pursuit of healthy living that meat, butter, cheese, whole grains, and vegetables were better than rancid oils, sugar, refined flour, and MSG. And when we found out how much better, we could not figure out why people keep pushing the fake junk down our throats. "Meet the Buttertons" commercials tell you that margarine is better than butter, without telling you that indigenous tribal peoples all over the world who have high amounts of butterfat in their diet have straight teeth, healthy skin, and practically no incidence of heart disease. I do not know about anyone else, but I have dealt with the pain of braces, and my kids are going to have straight teeth if I can help it.

It boils down to trust. There are foods that God told us were good for us. Do we trust Him? Would God tell you to include something in your diet that was going to give you heart disease or cancer? The thing is, in our humanity, we take what God gives and we try to go further. We think that saturated fats being healthier than polyunsaturated fats means that we should mainline them. Honey was almost always known as a healing agent. Sweet and soothing, honey has antimicrobial properties that can help fight infection, settle the tummy, and soothe the throat. So what does wisdom (a.k.a. common sense) tell us about honey? "If you find honey, eatjust enough-- too much of it, and you will vomit ." Honey is one of the things God said the Israelites would find in the Promised Land. Honey is not a bad thing. Overindulgence, though, makes you sick.

We may have started eating real food for different reasons, but we keep eating real foods because we trust that what God has for us is the very best we can get. We do not want the world's imitation food, just like we do not want their imitation love, their imitation success, imitation pleasure, and imitation life. Jesus said in John 10:10 "The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full." I want life. I want a full life. I want to trust God's best for me.

DISCLAIMER: I am not saying that NOT eating real food is heretical, NOR am I saying that eating real food makes anyone more righteous than anyone else. This is SIMPLY an interesting look into the reasons why it may be so hard for scientists to accept that real food is better. Aside from pharmaceutical company payoffs.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Choosing Inferior Faith

I was reading in Exodus today, where God was instructing the Israelites not to go after the gods of the Canaanites at the risk of destroying themselves (23:24-26). Suddenly, I was overwhelmed with the absurdity of that statement.

Do not misread me.  I do not think God was making grim forecasts with no substance, but you have to think about it this way: The peoples conquered by the Israelites were crying out to their idols of wood and stone. Idols that the Psalmist says are powerless to hear them, let alone act. The Israelites, by the grace of God alone, defeated these people who outnumbered the Israelites vastly; and were armed not only with superior numbers, but superior weapons and superior strongholds. The only thing the Israelites had over the various people of Canaan, was that they did not serve mute idols. They served the One True and Living God.

Imagine this. The people of Jericho, laughing at the Israelites. They couldn't believe that this poorly armed people would dare "take" their city, when they did not even have a way to get over the walls. The Israelites marched, and the walls fell down, Jericho was theirs.

Thinking that the Israelites would turn to foreign gods is ludicrous. It is as if two knights were fighting: one full clad in steel armor, and one in armor made of paper. The knight with the real armor defeats the knight in the paper armor easily, right? So why would God have to warn him, "Do not forsake your armor for the paper armor the other knight wore?" That is exactly what God was telling the Israelites. Do not sell the truth in order to buy a lie. Do not cast aside true strength and security in favor of superstition and false confidence.

How does that apply to us? What idols are we prone to go after? David says in Psalm 27, "The Lord is my light and my salvation, whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life, of whom shall I be afraid?" What things do we take stock in that are not God? What about the things we should be looking to Him to provide us with? Money? Food? Shelter? Value?

God refers to himself often as Jehovah Jireh, God who provides all of our needs. Our food, our shelter, and our provision come from Him. When we focus on the needs we worry, we stress, we strive, and we strain. God falls out of our focus, and we end up just like the biblical Canaanites: strong in the world's eyes, secure according to their standards, and impressive in our own eyes and in the eyes of everyone else; but still lost. We get our value from His love toward us, the sacrifice He made for us. How ridiculous is it of us - after seeing how His love has set us free from fear, seeing His hand of provision in our lives, seeing the victory He gives us from day to day - to chase after the "weapons" by which the world wages war? Forgive the extreme metaphor, but does it make sense to storm a castle, and then move in and set all the dead soldiers up as your guards?

When the Lord instructed us to store up for ourselves treasures in Heaven, it was not just to safeguard eternity for us; it was also to protect us in the present. When our hope is in the things of this world, we make our lives no more safe, secure, and cared for than the wall of Jericho left the city of Jericho. Why should we look to foreign gods? Why should we put our hope in that which is not eternal?

I was really challenged by what I read in Exodus today. It seems foolhardy to even think about pursuing things we know will not give us what we want and need, and yet, God saw fit to warn the Israelites: "By My hand and My hand alone you will conquer all of these nations; do not worship their idols, which were no help to them against My hand (my paraphrase)." Obviously there is something in the human heart that longs to adore, longs to find things we feel are praiseworthy, and longs to pour itself out to what we can find.

Jesus Himself gives the answer, when He says, "Seek ye first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well... (Matthew 6:33)" It is in worshiping God that we find ourselves provided for, secure, and valued. We give our hearts the purpose that was intended for them (to worship), and we find ourselves truly secure.