Scripture: Colossians 2:8-19
Key verse: (8) “See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition…and not according to Christ.”
Reflection: You can see in our text for this morning that Paul is concerned with what the community is being taught. Like so many of Paul’s letters he is trying to help the early Christian communities with understanding right belief, which helps them practice their faith well. For Paul and the community, one of the biggest areas of misunderstanding was around food. If the early Christians believed that certain foods made someone unclean then they would inevitably leave those deemed unclean out of the community, creating division. Already among Jews there was a division regarding food, separating those who could afford expensive animals for sacrifice and those who could not. As Gentiles (non-Jews) entered into the church, these lines around food highlighted the lines between class and status. For the early church, Jesus’ hope for radical unity across race, gender, and class was often undermined by food habits.
Unfortunately, the divide around food habits and class continues today. Let’s be honest, we all know that what we eat and how well we eat is often based upon our economic status. But talking with people that I love, I often hear that they view their comfort, stability, and full kitchens as a blessing from God. You might wonder, what’s so wrong with feeling #blessed? If we follow that belief through, however, we would also have to believe that those without comfort, stability, and those who have to get food from a food bank are not blessed by God. Perhaps we believe they made bad decisions or that they “sinned” and so they weren’t blessed by God. And a line is drawn. Perhaps we think that line is theological, perhaps it is so ingrained that we don’t even see the line, but the line is there right between economic status.
This division around food may be one of the reasons that Jesus referred to himself as the bread of life, a bread that unites, a bread that never runs out, a bread that is dispersed indiscriminately. Throughout his earthly ministry, Jesus didn’t just teach people what to believe, but he practiced new ways of living with them. Jesus welcomed all to his tables, he ate with those called sinners, the poor, those deemed unclean. Meal after meal, in what Jesus practiced he helped change people’s beliefs.
In this time that we are in, food insecurity is wide spread, and the line between class continues to be drawn. However, may we do our part in crossing that line and practice following the recklessly abundant inclusivity and generosity of Christ. May we continue to share what we have, to welcome all, to love widely and openly. And by God’s grace, with enough practice uniting around the bread of life we may believe rightly again.
Prayer: Loving God, guide us in your ways, renew our minds and our beliefs that we may see the world as you see it, that we may see others as you see them, that we may see ourselves as you see us, united in your love. Amen.
Author: John Magnuson
[Scripture quotations are from New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright © 1989 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved].