A Change of Diet

Published 9:22 am Thursday, March 31, 2022

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The story is told about a young man who grew up in a home where he was encouraged to eat lots of rich and greasy foods. As he grew a little older he eventually joined the military and, along with other changes in his routine, he started to eat a much different type of diet than he was accustomed to at home. One day, out of deep concern and fear that something horrible was wrong with his body, he went to the doctor and reported that his “fire had gone out.” He had become so accustomed to chronic heartburn while he was at home that when his new meal menu eliminated the condition, he thought he was slipping into some type of physical malfunction. He had become so used to a bad condition that he had accepted it as his normal expectancy in life.

I wonder if many people today have become so accustomed to the absence of inner joy and peace in their lives that they would think something was terribly wrong if they had a day that contained joy and peace instead of turmoil and confusion?

We would all do well to pay attention to what Romans 14:17 has to say: “For the Kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit” (New International Version). In this context, the apostle Paul is dealing with some trivial matters that some were choosing to make a huge deal out of and using it as an occasion to judge those who had a different opinion than theirs. Surely this type of attitude promoted perpetual confusion and disunity. Paul combated this by putting the emphasis back on what was really important: righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.

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Just like today, the church in Paul’s day needed to adjust their spiritual diet in order to promote a healthier atmosphere in the church. Rather than consuming each other through criticism and condemnation, they needed to serve one another with purity of heart and rightness of motive. Such an attitude can become reality when God’s people feed upon the example that Christ set before us rather than on the selfishness of the human heart.

If we expect to experience inner peace and joy from God, we must include in our spiritual diets a deep desire to know God more intimately today than we knew Him yesterday. In his book Knowing God, J.I. Packer writes, “Once you become aware that the main business that you are here for is to know God, most of life’s problems fall into place of their own accord.” Then as we come to know Him more, we become increasingly aware of His greatness. Concerning God’s greatness, Packer writes, “The Christian’s instincts of trust and worship are stimulated very powerfully by knowledge of the greatness of God.”

Along with the inclusion of God’s Word in our daily lives to bring us to a greater level of joy and peace, consistently spending time with Him in prayer is another essential component of a healthy spiritual diet that we need daily in the midst of the uncertainties of life. In Philippians 4 we are given a beautiful recipe to achieve this goal: “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God” (verse 6). When we follow Paul’s guidance in this verse, what can we expect as an outcome? “And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus (verse 7).

Are you going through life content to accept the conditions that hinder joy and peace from flourishing within your heart? Perhaps a change of spiritual diet that includes healthy servings of time in God’s Word and in prayer is needed to move you from perpetual confusion and heartache to continual joy and peace in Christ–joy and peace that can prevail even in the face of adversity. As Psalm 34:8 challenges us: “Taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the man who takes refuge in Him.”