Full of the Spirit
In my last post, I argued that the kingdom of God is a kingdom of freedom. Because we’ve been given everything we could ever need, we are free to give away everything we have. Here’s another way the kingdom of God sets us free.
In the New Testament, the Gentiles worshiped food, gluttony, and debauchery. They could not eat or drink without excess. If they had abundance, they exhausted it. The Jews fought the opposite battle in their self-righteous piety as they fasted zealously and refused God’s good gift of food to earn his favor. It took three visions of flying bacon in the clouds to convince Peter to even try it. Clearly he had no idea what he was missing. But even after pigs flew, Paul had to call Peter out in Antioch for falling back into his old sin of self-righteousness.
In America, we find a way to go big with both extremes. We brag about our healthy, gluten free, GMO free, vegan, free-range, responsible food choices and we compete to consume 4,500 calories in 1 hour or less. If we must boast, why don’t we boast more about Jesus? Controlling or releasing your appetite will not bring you a rich and satisfying life. Apart from Jesus there is no true satisfaction. The Bible does not teach that your diet can add years to your life. Surely, eating literal garbage will reduce your quality of life, but God has appointed your days from the beginning. In the kingdom of God we are free from anxiety about food and we are free to enjoy food as a gift from God.
Colossians 2:16-17 tells us, “Therefore, don’t let anyone judge you in regard to food and drink or in the matter of a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath day. These are a shadow of what was to come; the substance is the Messiah.” Enjoy God’s gifts! First Timothy 4:4 says, “For everything God created is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving...” A radical diet and fad exercise plan will not curb your appetite,
Although these have a reputation of wisdom by promoting ascetic practices, humility, and severe treatment of the body, they are not of any value in curbing self-indulgence. So if you have been raised with the Messiah, seek what is above, where the Messiah is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on what is above, not on what is on the earth (Col 2:23–3:2).
At the opposite extreme eating and drinking in excess will not curb the emptiness in your soul, but worshiping and serving Jesus will. Let us eat and drink like Jesus, “The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, ‘Look, a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’ Yet wisdom is vindicated by her deeds” (Matt 11:19). If the lost and the legalist line up to accuse us, let our joy and satisfaction in Christ inspire them. We must not allow the world to define us as against God’s good gifts. Let the world question how we can eat at the same table but be satisfied while they are still so empty. In the kingdom of God we are free to eat and drink because we are already full of the Spirit. What meal or cocktail could satisfy you more?