The Religion of Nutrition?

Let me be clear as a glass of Veen bottled water, I am a firm believer in God’s desire for us to take care of our bodies, and eating well is a vital aspect of doing such!

There is growing evidence that many physical and emotional problems can be traced back to nutrition at some level or another. My wife and I and our 4 children have removed most process foods from our diet and are very health conscious about what we eat.  I have been known to juice two to three times a day and declare with firm conviction the benefits of doing so.  So, as you read further, you can refrain from sending me emails declaring my ignorance or resistance to nutritional health and the biblical admonitions to live a healthy lifestyle.  Furthermore, in a church/christian culture ladened with diet-caused obesity, I am very encouraged to see more Christians moving towards healthier eating lifestyles. We as Christians are so quick to point out sins like homosexuality in our culture, all while we stuff our overweight bodies after Sunday service at the church of Golden Corral. Christians who don’t eat responsibly with health in mind are moving away from the Grace of God that teaches us to live rightly, just as much as any other.

However, anything can become an idol, work, legalist standard, religion, or self-righteous ritual, including nutritional health.

The word salvation (sozo) in the New Testament actually refers to the redemption/salvation of the whole person (physically, emotionally, and spiritually). Salvation is not just about getting out of hell and into heaven, it’s about the healing of the entire person, including their bodies. God has provided the supply to our every need, through His son Jesus. Every impact of sin on our life was remedied on the cross, as Jesus bore it all on our behalf. Faith is what applies the entirety of the work of Jesus on cross into our lives and living.

Yet, until we enjoy a new heaven and new earth upon the second coming of Christ, the truth is, as organic and anti-processed as you might like to become, the Garden of Eden is not available to us.  Everything of creation on earth is still yet tainted with sin. Even the best of what creation has to offer is fallen. Are there some foods that are better than others? Absolutely! Should we be consuming those better foods rather than the junk that is popularly offered? Absolutely! But nutritional health cannot save you, increase the favor of God on your life, nor make you more of a genuine Christian than another person. Oops, I think I hear few bubbles bursting.

Creation cannot redeem us nor sanctify us, only trusting in the Creator can. In fact, there can even be more clinical connection between stress and disease than there is to nutrition and disease. I would venture to say that some people are so stressed out about their nutritional life that any benefit they might enjoy from eating well is eclipsed by it. They have turned nutrition into a religion, even to the point of posturing themselves as a more faithful breed of Christian. Look at me and what I eat, now that’s what a real-deal Christian does!

Satan is always looking for things to entice the believer to look (and to get others to look) at their own performance for their legitimacy with God and their Christian living. For some, Satan has successfully dangled “nutrition” on a string swinging back and forth in front of their eyes, putting them in a trance of legalistic, nutritional rule keeping. Think I am exaggerating? If you haven’t already, it won’t be long until you run into a Christian who has become a nutritional Nazi, not out of a healthy, humble expression of their own freedom in Christ, but with a desire to project their freedom into yours with a sure sense that if you aren’t living like them, you aren’t as good as them. There is a whole new brand of Christian emerging that will not only thumb the Bible over your head, but a grocery list as well.

Nothing in creation can be your redemption nor salvation supply, only the Creator.  We are saved by Grace, not by gluten-free. And perhaps more importantly, we are to live by Grace from Grace, with the freedom to be gluten-free or not. Our identity in Christ is to Christ, not to what we eat or don’t eat. We are not what we eat, nor how we appear, we are what we believe and receive through faith. Jesus makes us who we are, not our diets.

It is more important to believe right than to eat right. The first gives birth to the second. It is more important to rest in Jesus and trust Him to be our every supply, (spiritually, emotionally, and physically) than it is to put your trust in nutrition for your health, value, legitimacy, and identity.  Food does not save you nor sanctify you, faith in Jesus, the true Bread of Life does. What would it do to gain the world’s best nutritional offerings and forfeit your soul, rest, and trust in God’s supply for your life?  Does God work through the wisdom of nutrition and better eating to benefit, bless, and even give physical healing in our lives? You bet. The same is true with medicine. But the Christian should never work to God from the wisdom of nutrition. God uses Christ to save us and sanctify us, not His creation.

Let’s not give up on faith and chase after the allure of a religion of food. Eat well, be health minded, exercise, but trust in Jesus more. Worship Jesus, not nutrition.

The Spirit makes it clear that as time goes on, some are going to give up on the faith and chase after demonic illusions put forth by professional liars. These liars have lied so well and for so long that they’ve lost their capacity for truth. They will tell you not to get married. They’ll tell you not to eat this or that food—perfectly good food God created to be eaten heartily and with thanksgiving by believers who know better! Everything God created is good, and to be received with thanks. Nothing is to be sneered at and thrown out. God’s Word and our prayers make every item in creation holy.   1 Timothy 4:1-5 (The Message)

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