Biblical Vegetarianism

Click here to read Romans 14 on BibleGateway.com

“Accept the one whose faith is weak, without quarreling over disputable matters.” – Romans 14:2

vegI am not a vegetarian.

Now I don’t say this as a point of contention; that is, it doesn’t bother me if other people are vegetarian; or vegan; or only eat organic farm-fresh pesticide-free non-genetically modified turnips. I don’t even mind if they’re a little vocal about it. We have enough division in our society without separating people on the basis of caloric preference. If people choose to eat only plant life, then I hope that they will be blessed and I thank them for living more of the pork chops for me.

I would just like to point out, in all humbleness and gratitude the Creator of Charcoal, the Bible says that people barbecuing is a sign of deep spiritual commitment.

Oh, I know people will challenge me on this. “Nay, good sir, for ye will find the elements of the Daniel Fast clearly in scripture, wherefore meat is clearly reserved for the wicked and veggies alone for the Holy Ones of God.” (for some reason, I always read vegetarian literature with a wealthy-brit accent. Maybe it’s just me).

But I’m afraid the facts are against you , my healthy friend. Romans 14:2 – “One person’s faith allows them to eat anything, but another, whose faith is weak, eats only vegetables.“ Clearly, the more meat one eats is an outward manifestation of their inward faithfulness. This is why crockpot roasts and slushburgers are so popular at church potlucks; that’s holiness right there.

PASSION OF THE CHRIST..IANS

Now watch this graceful transition into an actual point.

We love to find issues in our society. As the great Gordon A Eadie once said “if you don’t stand for something, you’ll fall for anything.” It is virtually a guarantee that you will be passionate about something in your life. It may be getting a spouse, running a business, education, a sports team, racism, healthy eating, politics, or good ole fashioned greenbacks, or just about anything, but you will become passionate. It’s who we are; we can’t help but live that way.

For Christians, it should be an easy choice; we should be passionate about Christ, to become as close to him as we possibly can in this life. But it is all too easy in the church to lose sight of that, and put our passion into something else, even good somethings else. Like ministry. Like the poor. Like social change. Like a healthy lifestyle. Like worship music. Like children.

These are all good things, but if we start to focus on them, we will lose our passion for Christ in the busyness of tending to our activities.  We will start to equate our “position” with “God’s truth.”  Therefore our vegetarianism is the only way to truly honor God; our style of music is the only one that is really in tune with God’s heart; our preaching method is the one that Jesus intended; our stance on alcohol is how God determines holiness, and so on.  We may even quarrel with people who think differently than us, after all, if they really had “discernment,” they would agree with us.

FOR LOVE IS OF GOD

Our love for others needs to flow from our intimacy with Christ. Our generosity to the poor needs to come from our understanding that all finances belong to God. Our push for social justice needs to be because under Christ there is no male or female, no slave or free. If our focus is lost, eventually our passion belongs to something other than Christ, and there can be none before Him for his people.

So study to teach the Word; practice to lead worship; buy a puppet or two to teach those children. But remember that they, and your spouse, and your children, and your job, and your ministry, are all second to Jesus. He alone can fulfill your passion.  You will find it much easier to accept other believers and their multitudinous foibles (look it up) if we are in love with Christ first.

That’s all for today.
Time to go increase my faith with some smoked ribs.

Class Discussion

Click here to read Romans 9 on BibleGateway.com

“Therefore God has mercy on whom he wants to have mercy,…But who are you, a human being, to talk back to God?” – Romans 9:18-20

classroom-discussion-hand-raised-copyOften in classrooms, particularly at the University level, teachers welcome and encourage discussion.  It forces students to think and defend themselves, rather than just regurgitate information, which is a good thing as regurgitation in school is rarely positive.  By most accounts, one of the first to really do this was Socrates, who asked repeated questions of his students (and challengers) to force them to explain their answers. (At which point they asked if he would like to try regurgitating hemlock.  Some people don’t like critical thinking. )  The goal was not just to get answers, but to see if a student knew “why” answers were true, and if they could defend them.

But at the end of the day, does the student’s opinion matter? If he questions the teacher on, for example, the causes of the Revolutionary War,  and argues repeatedly that the real reason was that aliens replaced George Washington and Cornwallis, and they were fighting over the rights to hunt alligators in Maine. During class discussion, the teacher may allow the theory, and give convincing reasons why it’s not true, and generally “play along” in order to practice the reasoning skills.  But if the student tries to put that as answer on the test, what is likely to happen? Sooner or later, the teacher has the last word, and no amount of arguing or discussion is going to change it.

DO NOT THINK THAT I COME TO BRING PEACE

So it is with God. Because God has chosen to reveal Himself, and because He allows us access to His throne, we sometimes get the idea that we can argue with God in the same way we argue with our other acquaintances. “Why did this happen?” “Why don’t you do this?” “If you don’t do this, I won’t believe in you anymore.” We tend to mistake love and openness with weakness.

That is not the case. In the book of Job, God even half-mocks Job when he asks to explain his suffering: “Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundation? Tell me, if you understand. Who marked off its dimensions? Surely you know!” God doesn’t really answer Job, He just says “you think you can understand my plan? You think you can tell me what to do? When you build your first mountain, then we can talk.”  God can choose to make Job suffer for no reason at all if He so chooses; who is Job to question it?

NO OTHER GODS BEFORE ME

In our reading today, God says basically the same thing. We look around and say, “hey, it looks like things aren’t fair over here. It looks like God is being nicer to that person than He is to me.” God’s response? “I’ll have mercy on whom I’ll have mercy,” i.e. I can do whatever I want.  If you missed the point, He emphasizes “who are you to talk back to God?” Is God answerable to you?  Doesn’t that mean you are putting yourself over God?  If you say God cannot do a certain thing because “that’s not what God should do,” you are effectively overruling God, and putting yourself in His place.  That’s a fairly big no-no in the Bible.

Following Christ is about loving Him in a close intimate relationship; there’s no doubt about that. But sometimes in the rush of love and forgiveness, we forget that God is also Judge, and the Almighty Awesome Creator of the Universe. There is no appeal, no arguing, no threat you can make to force God to act. If He wants to bless your neighbor and curse you, He can do that. If He wants to give you no answer to your prayers, He can do that.  If He chooses to allow innocent people to suffer for His purposes, He can do that.  He owes us no explanations.  We should never let our joy at God’s grace blind us to the reality of His wrath.

He alone is God, and there is no other.

He Must Be the Greatest

Click here to read Deuteronomy 34 on BibleGateway.com

And Moses the servant of the Lord died there in Moab, as the Lord had said… but to this day no one knows where his grave is.”  Deuteronomy 34:5-6

mugListen to any major athlete in the world, and you’ll often hear them talk about greatness.  They want to score the most, eat that many hotdogs, win the most championships, set this or that record, etc.  Even scouts will often say “this kid is driven, he really wants to be great.”   Even our cereal tries to be GRRRRREEEEAAAT.

Ever ask yourself why? What’s the point?  Do you know who won the World Series in 1973 without looking it up?  Do you know who won the pommel horse event for the last 5 Olympics? Do you know who ate the most pies at last year’s country fair? Do you know which wide receiver has won the most Superbowls?  You may, if you happen to be a sports fan, but for most people, they may be aware that information for a day, but then it’s quickly forgotten.  So what can we do to be remembered?

In just about any society, there is a tendency to build large monuments to their heroes, often tombs.  Obviously, the pyramids are the clearest example, but look at tombs for emperors, churches that hold the remains of saints, or statues of Babe Ruth.  We want something tangible and long-lasting to leave behind, so we can go to a specific place and remember that person.

THE REAL MOSES BUS TOUR

Yet in the case of Moses, we don’t even know where he’s buried.  Let’s set aside for a moment that God actually buried someone (how did that work? Did the body just disappear? Did angels come and bear it away on a litter?), why does the Bible note that no one knows where the tomb is?

Let’s say for example we knew exactly where Moses was buried; what do you think would happen? Pilgrimages? Maybe a yearly festival? Some good tour buses hitting the site on weekends? Maybe some T-shirts? Isn’t that what we do with our heroes? But not in this case.  The Bible specifically says that “no prophet has risen in Israel like Moses…no one has ever shown the mighty power or performed the awesome deeds that Moses did in the sight of all Israel.”  Clearly, by the standards of that time, Moses was a superstar.  Yet, he disappears into obscurity.  There are no shrines to visit, no festivals, no postcards at a cheap tourist trap.  Just the memory of the man.

And the Word of the Lord.

Moses (according to tradition) wrote the first five books of the Bible.  He passed the Law from God to the people of Israel (and consequentially down to us).  He predicted the rise and warned against the mistakes that would lead to the fall of Israel.  He left behind the revelations from God, and the promises He made to His people. Moses’  greatness was in not drawing attention to himself, but pointing people to God.

LEFT BEHIND

What do you want your legacy to be? Do you want a big mansion with your rotting carcass inside?  Do you want to be buried with honor, with a giant stone slab over it, which apparently is needed to keep you inside in case you decide to get up and walk around on stormy nights?

Or do you want the Word of the God to be the only thing you leave behind?  Would you rather that your only memorial is the lives of people serving Christ that you helped along the road? You only wealth given to the poor and needy? Moses was not a great man because he conquered the world like Alexander, or ruled it like Augustus, or was well known at the World Cup, but because he served God.  He was “more humble than any other man,” because he recognized that without God, he was nothing; but with God, anything was possible.

That’s true greatness.