It’s not an accident that what Jesus gave us to picture unity and fellowship is a meal. And it’s not an accident that in the New Testament there was a fair bit of discussion and division in the churches over what Christians were allowed to eat and who you were allowed to eat with. And it’s no accident that there have still been enthusiastic discussions and opinions all the way down to the present time about what is healthy, what is nutritious, and what Christians should put into their bodies.
This meal teaches us two fundamental principles for all food choices for Christians. The first principle is that you are free in Christ to eat whatever you want. There is no unclean food. This does not mean that I’m saying that a steady diet of donuts is good for you. But the Bible is clear that every individual person and family is responsible before God for the stewardship of their own bodies and health decisions. We are free to eat what we please, and the only requirement is that we be thankful for our food. The Bible says that all food is sanctified by the word and prayer. So whether it’s fully organic, grass fed, and free range kombucha or whether you got the hormone charged, extra gmo, lathered in high fructose corn syrup French fries, Jesus has declared all food clean and if you give thanks to God, it’s sanctified. It’s holy.
The second principle is that we may not use what God has given to make our hearts glad and unite us into a tool to make hearts sour and cause division. We may not divide here at the Lord’s table, and we may not divide at our own tables. And grace must be extended in both directions: The stricter brother or sister must not despise the more lax brother or sister, and the more lax brother or sister must not despise the more careful brother or sister. And obviously there is a difference between preference and true medical conditions that would land somebody in the hospital.
What unites us is not our food choices or preferences. What unites us is Christ. What unites us is His death, burial, and resurrection. And that is what is being offered here: fellowship in the body and blood of Christ. The kingdom is not about food and drink. The kingdom is about righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit. So put away your complaining, and do not despise one another. You are all welcome in Christ. So come and welcome to Jesus Christ.