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Gamaliel's Desk
Monday, September 05, 2005
Appealing to the Flesh
Modern worship has moved from the realm of exhortation and admonishment to entertainment. These “productions” include worldly music, instruments and sound systems. Kim Smith has written an excellent book called Oh, Be Careful Little Ears: Contemporary Christian Music that warns of the dangers of allowing modern music into our midst. As if this isn’t bad enough churches have started to include drama as part of their morning worship and even scheduled special services around their dramatic productions. Technology has enabled them to use presentation media to bring movies into the church along with the tools of the world such as PowerPoint to “facilitate” worship. If you ask me, it is all an appeal to the flesh.

As you know, our church has eliminated any vestiges of fleshly appeal from our worship services. We have no professional musicians performing and if there were any in our midst, they certainly wouldn’t be welcome. Our instrumental accompaniment is restricted to only godly instruments like piano and organ. We don’t sing any songs that are less than 25 years old and you won’t hear very many songs that are less than 50 years old. We make no concessions to modernity in any form with the exception of an excellent sound system for proclaiming and recording my sermons.

But I fear that we still have an area which is a blatant appeal to the flesh. The fact that this has remained one of the traditional staples of our Pharisee denominational heritage makes it no less carnal. I know that I am treading on dangerous ground here and run the risk of offending my fellow Pharisee preachers, but if we are going to be consistent in our walk, we need to make sure that our standards apply to every aspect of our worship. What might that be, you ask? It is the traditional carry-in dinner. Using the same line of reasoning found in “Biblical Guidelines for Christian Music” I will show how our church is removing all fleshly appeal from our carry-in dinners.

First of all, our meals are designed to glorify Jesus Christ. Any cooking that glorifies either the cook or the attractive presentation is an abomination to God. That is not to say that our dinners are unattractive or unappealing, but that we make no effort to glorify those who prepare and present the food. We may thank the ladies for their effort but never single any of them out for praise. Instead, all the glory for the food goes back to God.

Christian food is for the Lord, not the world. As Christians we should not have the same tastes as those who are still mired in worldliness. The world in fact finds our food unappetizing, unappealing and unattractive but the spiritual Christians know that we are cooking for the Lord’s benefit, not our own. If the world finds our meals pleasing, attractive and delightful in their own right, then we have succumbed to a fleshly appeal that is dishonoring to God. Godly churches serve food that only Christians appreciate, not the unregenerate.

Christian food is new food, not old food. Anyone who looks to a worldly cookbook to find food to feed Christian bodies is just as bad as someone who uses worldly songs to feed the soul. We should look strictly to the Bible for our ingredients and recipes. If it isn’t found in the Bible, then we shouldn’t include it in our cooking.

Christian food should be clear and easy to understand rather than vague and deceptive. Pate de fois gras may be fine for those fancy dinners hosted by worldlings, but Christians should be content to call it what it is – smashed goose liver. Better yet, if it is something the world is likely to serve, then we shouldn’t put it on the Lord’s table.

Christian food should emphasize the message of the gospel, not the food itself or the cook. Hot cross buns are a clear testimony to the risen savior but a Waldorf salad is a testimony to a carnal hotel. And if one is going to serve fried chicken, it better not come in a red and white cardboard bucket.

The food we serve should be suitable only for church rather than something one would find in fine restaurants or served by professional caterers. Our food should appear strictly in a Christian setting, and should never be comfortable in the world. This is one of the ways we ensure that our food remains holy food – it is only used in service to God. Holy food, just like holy music, is that which is dedicated solely to God and does not serve a common or mundane purpose.

Christian food should feed the soul and not the flesh. Our meals should be primarily to uplift the spirit, not the body. Any nutritional value or enjoyment should be incidental to the main purpose of bringing our lives into conformity with Christ. Our dinners should be dedicated to the Lord – not to the world.

Those of you who want to be truly spiritual will follow the lead of our church in making sure that you dedicate your church’s dinners to the Lord and eliminating any appeal to the flesh from your feasting together. Remember, it could be something as simple as a salt shaker that sets you on the path back toward carnality and lasciviousness.
O, c'mon Gamaliel...you KNOW you love it...;)

OK, Gamaliel, you sure got it wrong this time. Hot Cross buns? No way. Can you find refined sugar or powdered sugar in the Bible? Nope. So take away those buns with sugar frosting. At our house we don't have Waldorf salad, but we do eat apple, walnut and celery salad, and we were doing it long before MacDonald's coined that term to turn plain old food into "fast" food.

But what should we do about one of our deacons who has gone to school to become a professional chef? Is he too sinful to remain in a leadership position, or even in our church?
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