Sunday, February 1, 2009

A Balanced Diet

It is easy to think of the Christian faith as a buffet. Pick and choose the parts you like and leave the rest of it for someone else. Build your own burger, your own salad, your own tower straight to heaven. There are so many religious variations, denominations, offshoots, and non-denominational gatherings these days.

It is possible to find those who select the God of Love (New Testament only, thank you) with a helping of Buddhist-style meditations, leaving the God of Justice and some of the Ten Commandments simmering over the sterno. Some prefer the buffalo wings of their daily horoscopes without a daily Bible reading, and cover it up with a sauce of semi-regular church attendance and a "holier than thou" attitude. It is even possible to ladle up a soup of devoutly Orthodox traditions while gorging oneself on the false idols of fame, fortune, or flesh.

The buffet is open, help yourself.
Help yourself.
Can we help ourselves to a slice of heaven?
Can we pick and choose our way through the Bible?
Is that even the best thing for us?

Have you ever watched a caring parent take their child through a buffet line? Left to themselves the child will have the jello, the cookies, the cake, the ice cream... it's not exactly a balanced diet. Which is why the parents insist on helping the child make the right decisions.

Have something green. Says Mom as she scoops some peas onto the child's plate.
But I don't want any vegetables! I want cake!
They're good for you. Mom has already moved on and is putting a slice of whole grain bread on the plate beside the peas. You can have desert too but I want you to eat a balanced dinner first.

I think perhaps that's how God is. He is a loving Parent, and we are His children at the buffet. We are screaming about wanting cake and love and cookies and mercy only... and God gently reminds us: These vegetables, these acts of service, this consequence of your actions, this dicipline, they're good for you. The whole Bible, you need to have the whole meal. I want you to have a balanced faith.

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