The cliché “You are what you eat” has some basis in fact, it seems, or at least that’s what the nutritionists say. Eat this, not that. Watch your carbs. Eat good fat, but not too much. Limit your salt. Avoid additives. Eat all-natural.
In other words, don’t eat anything that tastes good.
We know now more than ever that our diet affects our health, probably more than we wish it did. No amount of exercise and vitamin intake can overcome a reckless, all-you-can-eat lifestyle.
That’s probably why God chose the food metaphor to talk to us about spiritual health.
You need milk, not solid food, for everyone who lives on milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, since he is a child. But solid food is for the mature, . . . Therefore let us leave the elementary doctrine of Christ and go on to maturity, not laying again a foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God, and of instruction about washings, the laying on of hands, the resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment. And this we will do if God permits (Hebrews 5:12b-14a; 6:1-3).
He’s telling us that our spiritual diet determines how mature we are. In fact, the Bible has a lot to say about the kinds of bad things that happen to us when we’re spiritually immature. We struggle with division and carnality. We make bad decisions and fuss with each other, causing problems in the church. Our marriages suffer, our confidence wanes, our joy falters. How do you fix it?
A good, solid, well-balanced diet makes us healthy. Healthy churches have members all along the spiritual growth spectrum. Some Christians are near the beginning, fresh out of the baptistery. Their Bible knowledge isn’t very deep or broad yet. To extend the metaphor, they’re still on a milk-only diet.
Others are a few years further along, still learning the fundamentals of the faith but becoming more comfortable with their convictions. And then others have matured well beyond the basics to a deeper understanding of Scripture. Their relationship with Jesus is more intimate than it’s ever been.
But the key component in all healthy Christians is that they’re not staying where they are. They’re growing, maturing, learning. They’re questioning, seeking, examining. Their climb faces regular setbacks, but it’s trending upward. They’re feeding on God’s word, and he’s blessing them.
What about us?
Are we growing? Is our Bible knowledge deeper than it was a few years ago? Do we love Jesus more fervently?
Like our physical health, where we are spiritually will always be closely linked to our connection to the Spirit of God through his word.
God probably sounds a lot like your primary care physician. Stay away from junk food, eat a well-balanced diet, and your health will improve dramatically.
What works at the dinner table also does wonders in our souls. —Chuck