It’s becoming a trope among Christian food writers to wonder what Jesus would eat at a church potluck.
Would He eat the raspberries, flown from somewhere in Central America and picked by underpaid laborers? What about chicken injected with hormones? A meal like this is filled with ethical and nutritional landmines.
And Jello? Really? Would the creator of the original garden, and every garden since, eat something that doesn’t even resemble food as He imagined it, in color, texture, taste or benefit?
Would He worry if the green beans were local? Fret about the conditions they were harvested under? Think about the way the animals were treated? Would He count calories or fat grams or carbs?
And what about great-aunt Susie’s chicken, deep fried in trans-fats? She made it especially for Him, or for his Bride the church. Would He encourage her or scold her? Is this her widow’s mite, a humble, generous offering?
What about you, with your organic salad made from obscure designer lettuce and served with chemical-free home-made dressing? Does He praise your food or excoriate your pride? How far would He have to dig in your refrigerator to reveal your hypocrisies?
Personally, I think Aunt Susie wins here. He takes fried chicken with a little Jello on the side. Maybe some of your salad, just so you won’t feel slighted. He is rich in mercy. And maybe you did bring it as a gracious offering to the Lord.
This is the Man who ate with publicans and sinners. And He called the Pharisees out over and over again for their pretension and their pride. He wouldn’t see a potluck, where his people come together to be with each other, as a place for teaching about nutrition or social justice. He came to be with sinners, after all.
I’m not saying he wouldn’t be bothered by the ethical concerns that reflect our abuse of his creation, including our bodies. I just don’t think he would see the potluck as the right venue to address it. And frankly I think he would be more concerned with our heart than our diet. In fact he said so.
But food is a new legalism, one of many. And I doubt He would have much patience with it. The dietary laws of the Old Testament had become a stumbling block by the time he arrived. And the New Testament pretty much turns its restrictions on their heads (more in the next post).
Today’s dietary laws are no different. They’ve become an endless source of vanity, judgment and self-righteousness.
You know who you are.
Have some raspberries.
[This begins a series on the ethics of food: how to pray over it, think about it and choose it, all without judging your neighbor or violating your conscience. Comment early and often.]