Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Bringing the Healthy Journey to the Evangelical Church

The November issue of Christianity Today has on its cover a cross-sectioned cauliflower which, at first, looks like the cross-section of a bleached out brain. The clever cover, which also includes the title "Eat Pray Think: Returning Integrity to the Act of Eating," refers to an article on page 22, "A Feast Fit for the King." The author is Leslie Leyland Fields.

A very large part of the article is a sympathetic survey of what the world outside the church is saying about responsibly dealing with food, expressing views with which I have become very familiar on my healthy journey and in many cases have adopted over the last 19 months.

The author follows her survey with several paragraphs in which she carefully distances herself from the non-Christian religious vocabulary and maybe pagan world-views underlying what is being said outside the church about food. But the sad fact is, the Evangelical church is a follower on this issue so far, and not a leader.

Finally, toward the very end of the article, the author asks: Why have we [in the church] ignored food so long? Why are we not attending more seriously to Paul's injunction to literally 'eat or drink . . . for the glory of God? What great questions!

I don't recall during all the years of my church-going hearing anything out of the pulpit, nor reading very much in any Evangelical publication, about our responsibilities as Christians specifically concerning food. (I probably wasn't always listening or reading carefully.) On the "Gospel-application" side, I have heard and read a good bit about managing money, about rightly dealing with sex, about sending food overseas to people who are hungry, but never anything about the food choices we make every day. Nor, for that matter, do I recall hearing anything about our responsibilities to animals, a very important issue related to the food question, of course, but a stand-alone issue too.

But here in a main-stream Evangelical publication like CT, the matter is competently introduced. I hope this is the beginning of a wide-ranging discussion among Christians about what the Lord calls us to do in the kitchens of our home, in the fellowship halls of our churches, and in the market places outside where Christians do their food-buying and a lot of their meal-taking, both among themselves and, more importantly for the Gospel, among non-Christians.

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