Thursday, April 22, 2010

Keeping It Kosher

You are like salt for everyone on earth. But if salt no longer tastes like salt, how can it make food salty? All it is good for is to be thrown out and walked on.

-- Matthew 5:13

If you shop or cook, chances are you’ve seen them a thousand times. They’re those special symbols printed on food packaging that certify its contents as “kosher” (literally “fit to eat”).

According to kosher food blogger Giora Shimoni (yes, there really are such folks!), kosher food is prepared according to Jewish dietary laws, which are rules and regulations derived from Old Testament laws and rabbinical extensions ensuring quality, cleanliness and safety. Hebrew National – a well-known brand of hotdogs – has a famous slogan that sums up their call to be kosher: We Answer to a Higher Authority.

Christ-followers do, too. But although we aren’t bound by the strict Old Testament dietary laws observed by the Israelites, they’re still a valuable reminder that we worship a God who knows us intimately, who cares for us deeply and who wants us to lead only healthy, Spirit-filled lives. And moreover, lives set apart from the world by higher standards. This profound, loving care and attention covers much more than the daily necessities of food, clothing and shelter. God also wants only the best for us when it comes to our personal relationships.

His instructions here are straightforward and timeless. When it comes to dating and choosing a mate, the Bible tells us to be picky and refuse to compromise. Does your prospective bride or groom share your love for God and strive to grow in his or her spiritual walk? If not, beware. The nation’s well-known divorce statistics tell the sad story. And what about his or her standards of personal behavior? Are they driven consistently by Christ-centered principles like patience and kindness?

Of course, our intimate relationships embrace both the emotional and the physical. And as with the ancient dietary laws, we need to stand apart from what the popular culture accepts and promotes.

“You surely know that your body is a temple where the Holy Spirit lives,” the Apostle Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians. “The Spirit is in you and is a gift from God. You are no longer your own.”
That’s a difficult admonition that clashes with today’s feel-good, live-for-the-moment attitudes. But that’s just the point. As Christ-followers, we’re not supposed to follow the crowd. Instead, we’re to be a distinct light to a dark and dying world, with lives that testify to Christ’s power to transform.

What does God want for our personal relationships? He expects us to follow His higher standards and refuse to compromise with the world; our very lives should be kosher. After all, Christ-followers do answer to a Higher Authority.

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