I've got a confession to make. For the last few years I haven't been a healthy eater. Only the recent earnest attempts of my sister got me seriously reflecting on exactly what I'd been consuming on a daily basis. This can be summed up in one word: sugar!
Don't get me wrong—I have no problem with all things sugary and sweet! In fact, you could say chocolate, ice cream and various assortments of desserts have been constant companions of mine! There were, however, several food groups missing from my diet: namely fruit and veggies!
I firmly believe vegetables do not taste good. Unfortunately, science tells us this doesn't make consumption of them any less essential to creating good physical health.
It's a matter of taste
Hands up out there if you love reading parts of the Bible describing God's justice? How about His wrath? How about His righteousness in light of sin? How about judgment?
I think I just heard a symphony of short and awkward coughing, combined with a noticeable absence of hand-raising, and perhaps even the sound of some crickets!
For many Christians these doctrines are the 'vegetables' of a spiritual diet. They are rarely ever preached on, discussed, studied and are usually banished to Old Testament territory because of an incorrect view of the character and ways of God.
These difficult truths—unlike the grace, love and blessings of God—are like veggies: difficult to accept and hard to digest. They confront our natural senses and seem unfriendly and out of place.
This leads to us becoming choosy about what we eat. Our plates end up being dominated by meat or poultry at the cost of those healthy veggies. The same can be said for what we intentionally or unintentionally leave out of our spiritual diet. Like a plate void of veggies, our spiritual plates also become unbalanced and unhealthy.
The big problem with an unbalanced spiritual diet is an obvious one. Just like our physical health suffers when we leave out vegetables and fruit from our diet, so our spiritual wellbeing is compromised when we don't consume difficult or hard-to-digest doctrines.
God gave us the whole Bible because He knew His people needed every part of it for their spiritual health. Every part of the Bible—difficult bits included—is good to feed the soul.
Jesus did not say man should live on some of the words of God, but on every word: 'Jesus answered, "It is written: 'Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God."' (Matthew chapter 4, verse 4).
We must not become wise in our own eyes in regard to what we believe is best for us to consume from the Bible. If we do this, we'll simply start to pick and choose which parts take our fancy at the cost of others.
We do not trust ourselves when it comes to our physical diet; rather we accept what nutritionists tell us. In like manner, we need to believe what the Lord says regarding what is good for our spiritual health because He has our best interests in mind.
Key ingredients for spiritual health
There are three key reasons why God wants us to consume His whole counsel (Acts chapter 20, verse 27), and which are also the key ingredients to spiritual health.
Firstly, God wants His people to be conformed into His image—not our own or others'. Hebrews chapter 1 claims Jesus is the Word of God made manifest. For this reason, we are transformed more and more into His image by reading the Word because it is by doing this we behold Him and are therefore conformed.
Secondly, God wants us to learn His whole counsel, veggies included, because the worship of Himself has to be according to His way as opposed to ours or something of our own creation.
When we only learn parts of the Bible we are in danger of filling in the gaps of our understanding about who we believe God is according to our own view. The end result of this is an idolatrous worship as we begin to take the place of God.
Lastly, learning the whole counsel of God is vital and ensures our service for Him is fruitful. In fact, the measure to which we know Jesus, His ways and will, will determine just how spiritually effectively we are.
By all means, enjoy the easy-to-understand doctrines and truths because they are just as healthy for you; but don't neglect any other seemingly distasteful truth.
Trust God to know what is best for your spiritual diet for all things relating to life and godliness, for the present and for the future. This will ensure you experience true life and worship and serve in the way God desires.
Tim is a high school teacher in Queensland and just finished a season being a youth pastor in America. He has a passion for the gospel and for seeing lives changed by the power, person and love of Jesus Christ.
Tim Price’s previous articles may be viewed at http://www.pressserviceinternational.org/tim-price.html