One of the latest buzz words in Christian circles, and everywhere else, is “organic.” As a society, we are spending increasing amounts of money buying organic produce, cage-free eggs, and grass-fed beef. Anything with the label “natural” is quickly becoming the preferred method, even when we’re not totally sure what “all-natural” really entails. For some, essential oils are replacing traditional medicine, with promises to heal across the spectrum, from a simple cold to chronic illness.
While eating organic foods and using non-traditional medicine certainly can be valuable, the danger comes when we develop a sense of superiority to go along with it. In our attempt to create a more organic, natural lifestyle, it can be easy to begin looking down our noses at someone who isn’t on our bandwagon. When promoting our own choices for food and medicine is becoming the latest form of evangelism, we are showing where our hope really lies — and that we are close to forgetting the gospel we say we hold dear.
Let me be clear that I am not against healthy eating. I wholeheartedly agree that what we eat has a significant effect on us, and we are to be wise stewards of our bodies. Bodily training, which includes responsible eating, is of some value (1 Timothy 4:8). But my growing concern in our Christian communities is that we be careful not to become more passionate about convincing others to feed their families the same way we do, rather than pointing them to Christ.
A dear friend of mine in women’s ministry tells me of a few passionate pleas she received to lead Bible studies on healthy eating. But does the Bible really tell us enough about what we should eat for a whole course? And do we have a right as believers to tell others what is the more biblical menu option?
Romans 14 addresses exactly these kinds of issues. Choices with food and medicine are exactly that — choices. And these fall into a gray area in the Bible known as “disputable matters.” Paul writes in Romans 14:1–4,
As for the one who is weak in faith, welcome him, but not to quarrel over opinions. One person believes he may eat anything, while the weak person eats only vegetables. Let not the one who eats despise the one who abstains, and let not the one who abstains pass judgment on the one who eats, for God has welcomed him. Who are you to pass judgment on the servant of another? It is before his own master that he stands or falls. And he will be upheld, for the Lord is able to make him stand.