One of the verses from our study in 2 Corinthians this past week got me thinking about the incredible liberty we have in Jesus Christ. In the 3rd chapter and 18th verse Paul writes “Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty” (NASB). One of my clearest impressions from being in Israel recently was the deep sense of gratitude I felt to the Lord Jesus Christ for the liberty we have in Him. At every meal we ate in Israel I was reminded of the burden of trying to please God by keeping the law. Let me explain.
I happen to be a big fan of breakfast meats, namely bacon, sausage and ham. But none of those meats were available on any of the breakfast bars we ate at through our 9 days of international travel. They included such things as smoked fish and salads, not my normal morning fare. Another of my favorite foods is shellfish like shrimp, lobster, crab and scallops. Again none of these were available at any of the places we dined. But does not eating any of the above mentioned foods make a person more spiritual and more holy? Not according to Jesus.
In the 7th chapter of Marks gospel we read “And He said to them, “Are you so lacking in understanding also? Do you not understand that whatever goes into the man from outside cannot defile him; because it does not go into his heart, but into this stomach, and is eliminated?” (Thus He declared all foods clean.) And He was saying “That which proceeds out of the man, that is what defiles the man”, (v.18-20 NASB). I am so thankful for the liberty I have in Jesus to eat some of my favorite foods. I am so thankful that Jesus is more concerned about what comes out of my mouth, which a reflection of my true heart condition, than what goes into my stomach. It’s interesting to consider that having a bacon and egg sandwich or going out for a shrimp and scallop dinner is really an act of Christian liberty but it truly is. Just try visiting a country where those things are considered against the law (religious law).
I am also thankful to the early Jewish church fathers who in the 15th chapter of the book of Acts decided that Gentiles converts didn’t have to become Jewish (and all that it entails) in order to become Christian. Peter’s words are especially relevant in defining the law when he says “Now therefore why do you put God to the test by placing upon the neck of the disciples a yoke which neither our fathers nor we have been able to bear? But we believe that we are saved through the grace of the Lord Jesus, in the same way as they also are” (v. 10-11 NASB). So this Christmas season, when you sit down for your favorite pork dish (my mom is cooking a ham) or your favorite shellfish appetizer, give God all the glory for the great liberty He has given to us in His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ.
All for Christ,