Eating Healthy in a Junk Food World

Let me start by saying that I'm not much for fad diets.  I believe that the constant losing and gaining of weight, and going on and off of diets throughout a person's life can have negative consequences for your health in the long run.  But that said, five years ago I had reached a low point in the food consumption arena.  That's my euphemism for confessing that I had a problem with junk food.  My wife saw this and brought it to my attention, and together (with much cajoling needed on her part) we began what is known as the 'Whole 30' diet.  Nothing fancy, just common sense eating.  The idea is that we were to eat only whole foods for a month.  No extra sugar, no sodium, no dairy, etc.  Just the healthy stuff.

Within that thirty days I had lost twelve pounds and an inch off of my waist, so we decided to keep going.  Another three months later, and I had lost a total of 25 pounds.  My skin was starting to clear up, I could sleep easily at night, and I was able to stop all allergy medication because my symptoms were non-existent.  Mind you, I had suffered from seasonal allergies during the spring and fall for half of my life.  

It was a miracle cure ... or was it?  

We are surrounded by junk food on a daily basis in this country.  Look at the label of what you are eating the next time you go to start dinner.  Sugar, sodium, MSG, yellow #5.  The list goes on and on.  Most (if not all) of these foods are more chemical than food anyway.  It is as if bacon cheeseburgers everywhere have come together to form a united front against our ability to live long, healthy lives!  And to make matters worse, the more bad food you consume - the more your body wants it.  This is both psychological and physiological. 

When I think of stripping away all of the unhealthy ingredients in these foods, I cannot help but ruminate on what it means to be spiritually healthy as well.  We are both physical and spiritual beings.  Is the Biblical Christian plagued by extra, unwanted raw materials that hover around the purity of our Lord's words?  Just how pervasive is church tradition when it comes to interfering with sacred Scripture?   One need only think about how many arguments have transpired both inside and outside the church when it comes to the subject of baptism.  Do we baptize infants?  Kids?  Or do we baptize adults only like in the Scriptures?  And do we sprinkle with water or fully submerge?  The rabbit hole continues in a downward spiral from there.  You get the idea.

It is important to make the point here about staying true to the purity of Scripture, so let's begin by trying to define what I think are five core beliefs that Christians hold dear.  This isn't a comprehensive list, but at it's root, it would be difficult for me to imagine anyone holding to a Christian identity if they didn't agree on these five things.  I believe all of these concepts are clearly stated in the Bible.  Indeed, we need only Google the Apostle's Creed to find many of them.

The big five are as follows:  we know God to be a trinity (3 in 1), we know Jesus was resurrected on the third day, we believe in salvation through Christ alone, we understand the concept of original sin, and we profess the second coming of Jesus one day in the future.  These are core principles of the faith, and they are repeated over and over again in the Bible.  Even with a superficial reading of the text, they are hard to miss.  

So then, why is it so easy to mess up religion?  Why do so many stray from the center and off into the murky grey area (or the fringe)?  We know that staying true to the gospel message was important to the writers of the New Testament also.  Listen to this verse from 1 Timothy (4:16), "Watch your life and doctrine closely.  Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers."   

If it was important to them, it should be important to us.

I think that the problem lies in the fact that these Biblical truths are often mixed together with a little bit of sugar here, and a lot of sodium there.  By the time we add MSG and a spoon-full of Yellow #5, we have such a watered down version of the Good News that we shouldn't be surprised if the outside world wants none of it.  They are hearing an amalgamated version of the faith, laced with political correctness and a good measure of personal opinion thrown in to boot. 

But imagine if we kept it simple, and we stuck to the big five without any additives or extras.  Habakkuk says this in fact (2:2-3), "Write the vision, and make it plain on tablets, that he may run who reads it.  For the vision is yet for an appointed time; but at the end it will speak, and it will not lie."   Imagine if we made it plain.  

I believe there would be less in-fighting within churches, and therefore less contempt for the word of God outside of the church as well.  We feel so much better when we eat healthy and begin to heal our bodies from the inside out.  Wouldn't this hold true for our spiritual selves also?  No loaded baked potato with sour cream and butter for me; just serve it to me plain please.  None of that other junk that will only slow me down. 

Then reality comes rushing back in.  Of course we often cloud these marvelous truths with man-made traditions and supplemental rules.  It's what human beings do - it always has been.  I'm sure many well meaning bishops and pastors throughout generations past have added a bit extra to their sermons here and there.  Better to make it plain if possible, however.  Once our skin begins to clear up and the allergy symptoms leave, the future of the church begins to look brighter.  We may even drop some extra weight in the process.


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