Warning: the man writing this blog has been on one of those no carb diets for nearly thirty days. He may be deranged.
There’s a funny contradiction in the lives of many evangelicals. It must be humorous, because whenever someone mentions it, we typically laugh and change the subject. Talk about wine drinking, and we obsess on drawing a clear line to avoid intoxication. Mention working or spending or even sleeping, and we insist on moderation. Taken to extremes, even a good thing can become a sin. Isn’t that Paul’s point in 1 Corinthians 6:12? “I have the right to do anything–but I will not be mastered by anything.”
Except gluttony. Talk about eating in excess during the Christmas holidays and we smile gleefully. Nobody takes moderation seriously when it comes to food and feasting. We just roll our eyes, throw up our hands, and laugh. “You got me, but nobody’s perfect. Right?” Of course, alcoholics and spending addicts say the same thing.
This is a new subject for me. I would probably qualify as a foodie. Nobody takes more delight in a great French restaurant or an exotic blend of coffee than I do. No celebration is complete for me without a table covered in tasty delights. I have always mocked those smarmy finger pointers who lecture the rest of us about unhealthy eating habits, the evils of sugar, and the wretched excesses of fast food. My classic response has been, “Aw, go get a life! My body knows what I need, and people in a free country should eat what they want.”
But I have recently begun to wonder about all that. Paul refused to allow anything to master him, but I think I have been mastered by food. Like many Americans, I nibble and sip on snacks and beverages all day long. And like many of my fellow believers in the USA, I haven’t fasted in quite a while. Why is fasting unthinkable in American churches? Mention forty days of prayer and many saints will quickly sign a covenant to try and persevere. But suggest one whole day of fasting, and most church people look like you’ve asked them to crucify themselves!
I will never be one of those vegan finger pointers, but I am beginning to think more deeply about faith, food, fasting and self control. So perhaps I’ll jot down a few of my discoveries here over the next few weeks. As it happens, this will all coincide with our American Season of Feasting: Thanksgiving and Christmas. Go ahead: you can say it. “Gee! Thanks, Pastor. Does your middle name happen to be Scrooge?:”
Lift up the Cross!