You are What You Eat.
15th Sunday after Pentecost
Grace, Mercy and Peace to you from God our Father and His only Son, Our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, Amen.
‘You are what you eat!’
We live in a nation where everybody is very concerned about what goes into our mouths. South Korea is set to ban the sale of coffee in schools in an effort to promote healthier choices among pupils and teachers. Authorities cited dizziness, increased heartbeat, sleep disorders and nervousness as symptoms. Our government wishes to ban energy drinks for teenagers and children as well. This nation has an administration, known as the Food and Drug Administration, who monitors and approves or disapproves everything from food to cosmetics as to what we consume.
We worry about levels of MSG, corn syrup and caffeine. We are a nation obsessed with cholesterol, both good and bad. One day, bacon is not good for you and the next it is. Another day, eggs are healthy and the next they are not. It is enough to drive you crazy.
To top it all off is our battle with bacteria. To be healthy we must be clean and to be clean we must kill 99.9% of all bacteria when we wash our hands, clean our counter-tops or even when we blow our noses.
Yes, we are definitely a nation obsessed with health and cleanliness. An article in by Ellie Lord, health and fitness have become a trillion dollar industry with an estimated global worth of 3.7 trillion and double-digit annual growth across all wellness sectors since 2010. Why?
“Compared to previous generations, the modern population is more sedentary – we spend hours watching television and sitting in front of computers, rather than being constantly physically active at home and at work. We’re also unhealthy eaters. Not only do we overeat, the food we eat is poorer quality – a typical modern diet includes additives, fast-food and processed foods.”
In 2008, the medical care costs of obesity in the United States were estimated to be $147 billion. The increase in obesity raises the risk of type 2 diabetes, which in turn raises health care costs. That’s not all! Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently reported a record high of Sexually Transmitted Diseases in the United States.
Our illnesses from sexual immorality, eating disorders and psychological infirmity far outweigh our combat against cancer or physical trauma. We are not only a nation of physically obese people but also of individuals obese in our moral depravity.
In the Gospel of Mark, chapter 7, Jesus is speaking to the experts of dietary law and cleanliness. The Pharisees were the keepers of the law, both of God and of ceremony. They were the FDA of their time.
Unlike our current Food and Drug Administration who focus on keeping the people of this nation physically and emotionally free from harmful products and actions, the Pharisees focused on keeping the Israelites spiritually free and healthy from harmful products and actions. They wanted to make sure their offerings, their lives and their prayers were 99.9% free of all sin.
It sounds a bit silly doesn’t it? For we know some of us are not sinful some of the time, but that we are all sinful all of the time. We all spend more time being sin-full than being sin-less. In fact, we are all closer to being 99.9% sinners than we are being 99.9% clean.
Unfortunately, the Pharisees and their followers believed that they could achieve holiness and righteousness by their stringent adherence to the Law of God and to their own self-made ceremonial law. They believed it was their own work, which sanitized their sinful hearts.
Regrettably, many of us today still believe in this ancient fallacy of works/righteousness. Many of us in this enlightened age believe, ‘If I am a good person, God will save me.’ Or, ‘I give to the needy and I donate time and money to charity, Jesus would not turn his back on me.’
After all, we tell ourselves,
‘I’ve never murdered anyone.’
‘I’ve never stolen anything.’
‘I’ve never committed adultery.
‘I’m not like those other people. I deserve to go to heaven.’
The list of our wishful justification only serves to lull us into a false hope. Ultimately, this only leads us to put our actions and ourselves above God’s redeeming work. Satan, the ultimate snake-oil salesman, promises the cure for all that ails us.
Everyone is using my product, he tells us. They are intelligent and wise; don’t you want to be like them? Go ahead and have an abortion, it’s legal. Go ahead and immerse yourself in pornography and sexual immorality, as long as you aren’t hurting anyone else, it’s okay. Go ahead and lie or slander your neighbor to get the upper hand, he would do the same to you.
This snake oil may make us feel good for a limited time. We may even think it is actually making us better human beings, but this is not true. It is a lie perpetuated by the Lord of Lies to kill ourselves. His miracle potion of morality contains the very ingredient of death. Sin is not a debatable health issue. It is not bad for you one day and then good for you the next. It is pure poison.
Jesus Christ, the Only Son of God, knows this. He even came from heaven above to this earth below to tell us the word of truth from his own mouth.
And he said, “What comes out of a person is what defiles him. For from within, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, coveting, wickedness, deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride, foolishness. All these evil things come from within, and they defile a person.” [Mark 7:20-23]
We do not become the physical food we eat because all that we eat passes through us. What comes from our hearts, that is how we act, speak and believe, is what makes us who we are.
Without Christ, we are lost. In our sinful nature, all we generate from our hearts is evil. Without Christ, all our works are worthless. We cannot create anything good from a heart filled with sin.
Jesus Christ, true God made incarnate, came to us to fill our hearts with the Holy Spirit. To do this, he first had to take away our sin. He had to prepare our hearts to be a living temple to God. The only way he could do that was to take our sin upon him and die on the cross in our place.
In his victorious resurrection from the grave of eternal death, he purified our hearts before our Father in heaven, not 50% pure, not 99.9% pure but 100% pure. He gave us our baptism to sanctify our bodies, hearts and minds in his death and resurrection. He gave us his true body and true blood in the Sacrament of the Altar to forgive our sins and regenerate our hearts into a blessed living place for the Holy Spirit.
Jesus Christ is the living food that does not defile the body; he is the bread of life, which cures everything that kills us every day. Our Lord and Savior, 100% God, was the only 100% pure man who had nothing come from his heart to defile him.
How do we cleanse our hearts so that we can live according to his statutes and just decrees? How must we live in order to not defile this holy temple which is our body?
We follow our Comforter and Guide, the Holy Spirit. We put into our hearts and minds that what is of God. We have the holy Word of God in our Scriptures. Through our hearts and minds, we inwardly digest this Word. Through constant reading and meditation on His word will we come to understanding by the Holy Spirit.
If we fill our minds with false doctrine – that is, teachings not of God – our hearts are sure to follow. If we fill our minds with our own law – that is, law that is not of God – our hearts will lead our hands and feet away from our Lord.
The apostle Paul likens our strength in the Lord to that of a foot soldier putting on armor. Just as we eat a spiritual bread for spiritual healing, we do not put on a physical but spiritual armor. As St. Paul says:
For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. [Ephesians 6:12]
This armor is the protection of God yet there is one piece of this armor described also as a weapon of offense – ‘the Sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God…’ The word of God is not only a defense against the Devil and those who wish to lead us away from our Lord, it is also a means of killing that evil which attacks our friends, family, loved ones, and yes, even our enemies.
With this weapon that destroys the evil lies of our enemy, we carry the Holy Spirit to those who suffer the attack of sin. The Sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, cures our ailments and allows us to forgive others.
We are now the messengers of God’s holy Word; a word that sanctifies our hearts and minds to follow the commands of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. His word does not defile or kill, but makes alive all people through the Holy Spirit.
To this end keep alert with all perseverance that words may be given to us in opening our mouths boldly to proclaim the mystery of the gospel as we ought to speak.
 https://www.cdc.gov/media/releases/2017/p0926-std-prevention.html. Downloaded 31AUG18