…so now we can eat bacon…

One of the most interesting concepts to me in the Bible is that of dietary laws. In the Old Testament, the Israelites were given a law from God that forbade them from eating certain types of meat. For land dwelling animals, the animal had to have “split hoofs,” and “chew cud.” A cow is a very commonly thought of animal in relation to this subject. It chews cud and has a split hoof. These animals were considered clean and others unclean. A pig, for the most obvious example does not chew cud, thus making it unclean, although it wouldn’t take much thought to realize that a pig is a pretty disgusting animal anyway, comparatively speaking. The reason I’ve been intrigued by the concept of clean versus unclean animals is that God doesn’t really give a reason as to why He made this distinction. I know there are many people out there that speculate on the various reasons, ranging from health reasons to philosophical issues. However, any reason we give is speculation, because the Scripture isn’t clear as to why these distinctions are made. God never said, “I have deemed them unclean for ____ reason(s).” Therefore, we have spent a lot of time trying to figure out this mystery…but maybe we missed an interesting point in the big picture…

When a people group have certain dietary restrictions it becomes harder to plan a meal with them. When we have company over and have either someone with an allergy, or just someone that is overly picky, it becomes challenging to plan a meal with them. Meals are very personal…intimate…bonding…a time of fellowship. If someone is very difficult to plan a meal around…they don’t get nearly as many invitations…their circle of intimacy becomes smaller…they are a little more isolated within the sea of humanity. Or if they have certain customs for the way food is to be consumed…such as meat and dairy have to be separate or something like that…then they’re not as likely to engage people in a meal that don’t hold to those same standards. All in all, dietary habits and/or rules change whom we can sit across the table from and spend time bonding with.

I was in the Navy, and therefore I had to go through what we called, “boot camp.” My world was totally revamped in those months. They sequestered us on a base, behind a big fence…sort of like a prison…and limited our contact with the outside. I remember going outside the fence for the first time…it was strange…even though i spent the first 18 years of my life outside…and only 2 months inside…it was foreign to me…because they had remade the way I viewed the world. They did this in order to accomplish their goal in us, which was to teach us how to be sailors…a part of a force…with a cause…with a function…together…separate from all else. The nation of Israel was to be a people separated for the Lord. They were to be different in order that God could use them to bring about His plans for the redemption of the world. They had to be trained in different customs than they had followed in a pagan land…they had to have their whole understanding of the world undone and remade into the way God would have them see humanity…until they were ready to enter the world again…and integrate…but with a mission…with a cause…with an understanding that vastly differs from that of other people. They were to be the people that introduced Messiah to the world, and proclaimed His good news….His Gospel…to the world…but they had to first be trained…to be sequestered…separate…and different…until the time was right.

Then Jesus came…and He proclaimed the Good News of the Kingdom…and He suffered and died…for us…and then…HE AROSE! He told His followers that they weren’t ready just yet…but had to wait…for power…which came with His Spirit. About a week later, that’s what happened…the Spirit came…He infused believers with the actual presence of God…for the purpose of sharing this Good News…this Gospel…with the world. Some time went by…and Peter, the primary leader of the Apostles, had a vision. In this vision, he sees all kinds of unclean animals and is told to “kill and eat.” To this he responds by saying that he has never eaten anything unclean, and wasn’t about to start. Then, God told him to not call anything unclean that He had made clean. Immediately after, Peter receives a message from a non-Jewish man that his presence is requested. This was not common for Jews to engage due to the fact that gentiles, or non-Jews, were considered unclean as well, due to the sequestration of Israel. This man, Cornelius, tells Peter that God has been working on him and he needs to hear the Gospel from Peter (total paraphrase of events from Acts 10). Peter comes to a realization connected with the vision he had…God does not consider these people unclean and neither should he. In fact, he should engage, and he should fellowship, and he should eat with them…and get close to them…in order to share this Good News, this Gospel…because now, boot camp was over…and he was ready to engage the mission…he had graduated.

In our modern context, we sequester ourselves in many ways. We seem to find reasons not to engage those that are outside of the family of God, because they are different…dare I say, “unclean,” in our estimation…because they have certain lifestyle choices that we disagree with…some rightfully so…and some questionably so. However, just imagine where we would be if the non-Jews, like Caucasians, Africans, Native Americans, Arabs, etc…had never been engaged…most of us would be eternally separated from God…just like those outside of Christianity are right now…and may remain…

Let’s remember that Jesus traversed the boundaries that separate us from God and He knocked down the walls that sequestered us from each other…so now…we can eat bacon…and we can engage all people with the Good News about Him and His love for all humanity…and our very real hope for the future.

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2 comments on “…so now we can eat bacon…

  1. Ryan Allison says:

    That was great man. Absolutely great. Thank you.

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