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Sunday, June 01, 2008

Buffet or one-pot meal?


You receive two dinner invitations for the same date. The first one reads: You are invited to have dinner with us on June 6, 2008. Dinner will consist of a one-pot meal served promptly at 8.00 p.m. The other one reads: Come dine with us on June 6, 2008 and enjoy a buffet dinner served promptly at 8.00 p.m. Which one will you choose? Even though neither invitation listed the exact dishes or components of the meal, you rightly assume that the buffet dinner will offer you the choices that you can partake of and so you reply to that invitation.

For some, that's the way we approach God's Word. A little bit of this and a little bit of that. No, not that one, the other one. Is that how God wants us to approach His table? Do some parts of His meal cause us indigestion while others are okay? "... Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God" (Matthew 4:4)KJV. The word "every" is the operative word. Not some but every.

I think of the time when Jesus washed the feet of his disciples. After He had finished washing their feet He said to them, "Ye call me Master and Lord: and ye say well, for so I am. If I then, your Lord and Master, have washed your feet; ye also ought to wash one another's feet. For I have given you an example, that ye should do as I have done to you" (John 13: 13-15). This event recorded only in the gospel of John took place just after Jesus had finished breaking bread with His disciples at the feast of the passover. The breaking of bread has been promulgated by the church as Holy Communion, one of the tenets of the Christian faith, while the washing of the feet is ignored altogether.

The text above is rarely preached from the pulpit, and when it is, the act of foot washing by Our Lord is referred to as a symbol. A symbol of servanthood, of love, of humility or whatever. I am no preacher or theologian, but I believe that if we take the Word of God literally, approach it as a one-pot meal and not a buffet, then we ought to follow everything it says-everything, that is, that falls under the new convenant.

When I was a child I attended a church where foot washing was carried out after Holy Communion, and that was long before latex was ever invented. If they could have done it then, why not now? We live in a time when many of the basic tenets of Christianity are either being diluted or eradicated altogether. In some churches one never hears about Holy Communion or Holy Baptism. I even heard one minister say that we don't have to follow the old ceremonial laws any longer, referring to the two mentioned above. Old ceremonial laws? There is nothing old or outdated about the Word of God. It is as relevant today as it was when it was first written. James warns us, "But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves. For if any be a hearer of the word, and not a doer, he is like unto a man beholding his natural face in a glass" (v 22-23).
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