Ours is a generation of fast things. Fast cars, e-mail, aeroplanes and fast food; to easily name a few. We’ve learned to live life on the fast lane. It’s a new lifestyle, because it’s alien to even those who began life in their twenties about 30 years ago. Because some of them still find it hard to understand why you want to drive a car they couldn’t drive at your age. But things have changed, not many things are a big deal anymore. So this generation will not wait for you, we want it ready to be served.
So, we love fast food: highly processed restaurant foods that are prepared quickly or are available on demand.[i] Some fast foods have a reputation of being classy and fashionable while others are just tasteful and popular. Those two attributes, tastefulness and popularity, seem to be the common attributes of all kinds of fast food, be it moin-moin, suya or chicken and chips. So, some thrive on name—popularity—while not necessarily tasteful or healthy for consumption.
The healthfulness of fast food is least considered by its consumers which sometimes include me. We sometimes think about but overlook the health of animals cooked, the conditions under which they were reared, the manner in which they died, the kind of water with which the food was prepared, how stale they are, the health of the cook and what the seller cares about most, which mostly is profit; and that’s important because the motive in that case is hardly to improve the customer’s health. And we know that most of the diseases ravaging our world today have a link with what we eat; as suggested in the age-long expression “you are what you eat”. The point of attraction to fast food for many of the consumers is hardly any of the things earlier stated, it rather is the trendiness, tastefulness, sophistication as well as the aroma and appearance among others.
Food, many times is used by Bible writers as a metaphor for the Word of God. They sometimes called it milk, meat or bread (see 1 Cor. 3:2; Heb. 5:12, 13; 1 Pet. 2:2; John 6:51). And in the last days of Christ after His resurrection, when Peter was sober that he had denied Jesus and now Jesus wanted Him to prove his loyalty, the only way Jesus told Peter to prove his loyalty was to “feed My sheep” (John 2:15, 16, 17). The charge to feed Christ’s “lambs” and “sheep” was given to Peter three times; equal to the number of times which he denied Christ.
Any true messenger of God must show His love for God by feeding Christ’s sheep with the Word of God, unadulterated and undiluted “not with enticing words of man’s wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power” (1 Cor. 2:4 NKJV). The Word of God is not to be given as fast food which may be half cooked and popularity driven, it rather is to be given following Paul’s counsel to “Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the Word of truth.” (2 Tim. 2:15 KJV). A preacher worth listening to must be one who is not driven by the fast food mentality, but by the healthy home-made food mentality; one who digs into the Word in search of truth.
But ironically, a majority of those who sit in pews today are driven by the fast food mentality, therefore, fast food preachers are on the rise as predicted by Paul under inspiration that “the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables.” (2 Tim. 4:3, 4 NKJV). It is that time now and therefore those of us who do not prefer unhealthy fast food to the well prepared home-made food ought to take note of the very first sign which Jesus said would be, when His coming is close. Jesus said “Take heed that no one deceives you. For many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and will deceive many… false prophets will rise and show great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect. See, I have told you beforehand. (Matt. 4:4 ,5,24,25 NKJV).
Many catch phrases fly around today as fast food which begs for probing into the kitchen of its cooks in order to find out how it was prepared or better still, take biblical counsel and “stay away from every kind of evil” (see 1 Thess. 5:22), because when compared with a proper study of the Word of God, such statements will be found wanting and all they’re out to do is to mislead and deceive. A former facebook friend of mine posted a fancy phrase on his status update recently which read “eternal life has nothing to do with eternal existence”; immediately I saw it, I knew this was unhealthy fast food from the kitchen of a cook that believed the doctrine of “people burning in hell without dying”; I tried to make my friend see that this was wrong biblically, I commented with a question and some Bible texts which could help us reason together; the result: he “unfriended” the heretic.
Knowing the kind of generation I live in, whenever I hear any group of words explaining a religious concept, I’d like to bring it to subjection to God’s Word and see whether it’s a healthy fast food, no matter how “highly placed” the author is because the old Prophet of 1 Kings 13 caused the death of the younger Prophet by misleading him to act contrary to the Word of God. And so should everyone who is serious about adhering to God’s Word. We can’t just tag along with every idea that sounds appealing; if they are found wanting after proper examination, they must be thrown out of the window.
Commenting on 2 Timothy 4:1-5, Ellen White has this to say:
No one is to put truth to the torture by cheap imaginings, by putting a forced, mystical construction upon the Word. Thus they are in danger of turning the truth of God into a lie. There are those who need in their hearts the touch of the divine Spirit. Then the message for this time will be their burden. They will not search for human tests, for something new and strange. The Sabbath of the fourth commandment is the test for this time. . . .There is among young men a burning desire to get hold of something new, even though it be of the cheapest quality. The Lord would not have the mind dwell on unprofitable nothings, seeking for what it will never find. He desires us to seek for a pure, clean soul, a soul washed and made white in the blood of the Lamb. It is the white robe of Christ’s righteousness that gives the sinner admittance into the presence of the heavenly angels. Not the color of his hair, but his perfect obedience to all God’s commandments, opens to him the gates of the Holy City (emphasis supplied).[ii]
Jesus taught in parables in order to aid peoples understanding by relating the known to the unknown. He didn’t use “cheap imaginings”, neither did He mystify God’s Word, He taught the Word without lowering its value or standard. The Word of God does not need to be euphemised or embellished, it has power in itself. Therefore, seeking to present it with fancy ideas which are of themselves against the Spirit and letter of the Word is misleading and deceitful. “The word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.” (Heb. 4:12 NKJV).
Christians must be wary of every idea presented to them by philosophers who parade themselves as preachers of God’s Word in our day so that they do not fall a victim of unhealthy fast food or unhealthy home-made food as the case may be.
It is unhealthy fast food if it’s just a phrase that sounds good and the hearer doesn’t even bother to check with the Word before believing. It is unhealthy home-made food when the idea is presented in a long sermon or book which consists of many unhealthy fast food mixed together in order to present a grand theme or idea. The fact that a book is #1 or best selling does not mean that it has the approval of heaven.
We must be wary of anything that is found wanting by a proper study of the Word of God, because just as unhealthy food, whether fast or home-made, could lead to death, so could unhealthy spiritual food lead to eternal death. Peter in his second epistle wrote:
“Our beloved brother Paul, according to the wisdom given to him, has written to you, as also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things, in which are some things hard to understand, which untaught and unstable people twist to their own destruction, as they do also the rest of the Scriptures. You therefore, beloved, since you know this beforehand, beware lest you also fall from your own steadfastness, being led away with the error of the wicked; but grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory both now and forever. Amen.” (2 Pet. 3:16-18 NKJV).
Many claim that it doesn’t matter what they eat since we’ll all die one day; but my mum—a nurse—reports the plea of many dying men for a second chance in which they’ll never taste that which is killing them anymore, especially alcohol. Peter, in the above quote reveals that the kind of spiritual food one consumes is a life and death issue, and he presents the antidote to this destruction as growing in grace and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. In order to be shielded from the myriad of errors that proceeds from many pulpits today, one must have a deep knowledge of the character and ways of the God in the scriptures by studying in order to find truth. Thus, when a proposition seem to contradict the real character and ways of God or when they blatantly or subtly negate the scriptures by placing cultural, contemporary or pragmatic considerations above the Word of God, then we must watch out, because such food might just be unhealthy for consumption.
A biblical principle that helps to deal with fast food in a balanced way is in Paul first letter to the Thessalonians. He wrote:
Do not scoff at prophecies, but test everything that is said. Hold on to what is good. Stay away from every kind of evil. (1 Thess. 5:20-22 NLT)
The text teaches that all fast food is not bad neither are all home-made food good. But one’s first reaction should not be rejection, neither should it be total trust. But bring them to a laboratory test, if they come out healthy, eat it, if they are confirmed unhealthy stay away from them; consumption of unhealthy food is never without consequences.
[i] Microsoft® Encarta® 2009. © 1993-2008 Microsoft Corporation. All rights reserved.
[ii] Ellen G. White, S.D.A Bible Commentary, Vol. 7, p.920