Christianity Is Not a Buffet

Christianity Is Not a Buffet

buffet

When you have growing children whose appetites can best be compared to a Shop-Vac… sometimes your safest bet is heading to the local buffet for dinner. A Buffet is one of the only ways you can ensure every kid will be able to find SOMETHING they like. What a crazy notion a buffet is to a child. Here is a place where I don’t have to eat anything gross; I can pick and choose whatever I desire. I can go to the chocolate fountain and eat to my heart’s content if I want. No one is forcing me to eat any vegetables or grown-up food. As an adult, it’s funny to remember the admiration for buffets I once had. Now that I can actually think about the food I am consuming and its quality, or lack thereof, it’s hard for me to want a buffet these days.

            Sadly, the Church is filled with Christians who treat their faith and God’s Word like a child would a buffet. Just like a child picks and chooses the foods they enjoy, some Christians pick and choose what they enjoy in God’s Word. When it comes to the love, grace, forgiveness, and mercy of God—I’m IN. However, when it comes to the wrath, justice, judgment, and holiness of God—I’m OUT. Does Christianity work that way? Is it right for us to focus on 1 Corinthians 13, the chapter of love, and neglect the rest of 1 Corinthians because Paul is admonishing and correcting the Church for basically the other fifteen chapters?

            Christians who say, “Give me the Gospels and let’s leave it at that,” have completely missed the point of Christianity. The Gospels show us how we can be children of God, but the Epistles show us how to remain children of God. Which is more important? Both. Anyone who says, “All I care about are the words in red,” is just like a child at a buffet only willing to eat from the chocolate fountain. Augustine once said, “If you believe what you like in the Gospels and reject what you don’t like, it is not the Gospel you believe, but yourself.”

            Jesus condemns the Pharisees for this very thing throughout the Gospels. The Pharisees loved to bind heavy burdens on everyone but themselves. If it came down to the minute details and jots and tittles—they were all in. However, if it came down to the passages about the Messiah and the Savior—they were all but out. “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the Law: justice and mercy and faith. These you ought to have done, without leaving the others undone. Blind guides, who strain out a gnat and swallow a camel!” Matthew 23:23-24. Whenever we point our finger at another brother or sister and talk about their shortcomings, we better be sure we aren’t the ones with the plank in our own eye (Matthew 7:3-5). When we get bent out of shape about the speck in their eye and ignore the plank in our own… we are straining at a gnat and swallowing a camel.

            I don’t know a single person who would relish the idea of being compared to a Pharisee. However, I know many Christians who neglect the weightier matters of the Law. Unfortunately, I know many Christians who strain at gnats and swallow camels. What is Christ saying in this passage? Is He insinuating some commandments are not important? Of course not! Christ is not saying some of the commandments are needless. The Pharisees had gotten so caught up in the bullet point commands that they had forgotten the greater reason He gave the bullet point commands. So, Christ is trying to remind them they had completely forgotten the big picture of why the individual commands were given in the first place—justice, mercy, and faith. When we do this, Christ says we have become hypocrites.

            Christians can only be thoroughly equipped for every good work if they have thoroughly received ALL of Scripture. All Scripture is given by the inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.” 2 Timothy 3:16-17. Unless we are willing to take in ALL Scripture, there is no way we can be complete. How often do we see a brother or sister leave the faith when life becomes difficult? When they are faced with trials or having to make a stand—they wilt. Instead of being surprised, we should realize it all boils down to the fact that they never equipped themselves for every good work through ALL the Scriptures.

            God’s Word is not an “either-or” book; it is an “all-or-nothing” book. It is not a dingy all-you-can-eat buffet but a glorious full-course meal. It all comes down to whether or not we are willing to consume it all. Am I willing to adhere to all of it? Can I receive even the parts calling me to CHANGE something about myself? Growing up is not fun, but at some point… we have to be willing to eat something other than the chocolate fountain. If you love Me, keep My commandments.” John 14:15.

-Ben Hogan, Minister of Evangelism