Last week I wrote about three things that are not in my grocery cart on my food blog, Non-Chef. It actually is the most read thing I have ever written on the internet. Since writing this, I've found myself being especially mindful of the grocery store choices I make. Except, confession: I bought Hot and Spicy Cheez-It crackers to share at a soup potluck.
Confession: I bought peanut butter without checking for high fructose corn syrup. Another confession: I still haven't checked the label, because I just don't want to know.
Confession: I bought turkey for sandwiches, which is both meat and high in sodium. It was convenient and delicious.
But, I also want to be clear about this, because through writing, I have a small impact on the internet: I've got much bigger concerns than grocery carts and what's going into my mouth.
The heart of the matter: as a Christian, I'm more concerned about what's coming out of my mouth.
Here's what I've been thinking about recently.
Jesus called the crowds to him and said: "Listen and understand, What goes into a man's mouth does not make him 'unclean,' but what comes out of his mouth, that is what makes him 'unclean.; -Matthew 15:11, NIV
What goes into a mouth doesn't make a person unclean?
But, I think, what about cancer? Isn't there proof that we're just feeding inexplicable diseases and foreign growths with the bad, unhealthy foods we eat?
What about overeating? What about gluttony? Isn't that a huge problem in the American church today? There's no way that's 'clean.'
Then my mind goes a whole different direction. What about the dirt and grime off those donkeys Jesus seems to always be riding? Or, shudder, the lack of modern toilet paper in Bible times? Gag.
I'm no Bible scholar, but I do own and read a NIV Study Bible. According to the notes at the bottom of the page, Jesus here was addressing the Jewish rabbi's meticulous rules and regulations that were interpretations and applications of the law of Moses. My study Bible explains that these traditions were kept orally until about the year 200 A.D. when they were recorded in the Mishnah, which is a text that is revered in Judaism today (thank you, Google).
The tradition in question here was the fact that Jesus' disciples didn't wash their hands before eating. (Possibly relevant? Jesus had just fed 5,000 people using fives loaves and two fish the chapter before.)
So, the problem going into the mouth is an early concept of germs? Or just plain dirt?
Whatever it is, it doesn't matter as much as the output.
Jesus asked them, "Don't you see that whatever enters the mouth goes into the stomach and then out of the body? But the things that come out of the mouth come from the heart, and these make a man 'unclean.' For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander. These are what make a man 'unclean'; but eating with unwashed hands does not make him 'unclean.' v. 16-20
Ok, last confession: my output-from-the-mouth sucks. The words I have used recently have been somewhere between a face-palm and a foot-in-mouth almost every day. I think I've apologized for rudely snapping at my husband every day in the last week, probably longer. I know that I've been brisk with my family members.
I haven't murdered, committed adultery, stolen anything, or even lied, but, jeez, I've been far from that "little Christ" ideal that Christians are probably supposed to be like. I'm a work in progress.
Am I still concerned about what goes into my grocery cart and therefore into my mouth? Yes. I have an ethical problem with much that is found on grocery cart shelves, and I have a lot more to say about that.
But, the heart is so much more: grace, mercy, love, JOY! abounding and slowly growing in every are of my so-called Christian life. I have a lot to say about that too.
I try. SO HARD. Many of you do too. So, I pray, like a child, mimicking a translation of a prayer spoken two millenniums years ago: Your kingdom come, Your will be done on Earth as it is in Heaven. I take my frustrated fists, turn my palms upward, and open my hands up a little bit, and write a blog post.