For spiritual health, avoid 'junk food religion'

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Minister's Forum

We all know that a diet rich in junk food is very unhealthy.  We know that such a diet is a leading cause of obesity in our country.

We also know that a diet rich in junk food is the cause of many cancers, high blood pressure, diabetes and so many other bad things.
So, why is junk food such a staple in so many of the diets in our country? The answer is fairly easy to determine. Junk food is very tempting and very alluring for several reasons:
First of all, it’s quick. We have created a system of feeding ourselves junk food because it is ready almost instantly – opening a bag of chips, microwaving a pizza or going through a drive-through at one of many fast food franchises.
Secondly, when we establish a taste for junk food, it’s hard to appreciate the taste of healthy food. We see this in our children. Kids who are raised on pop and potato chips as a staple of their diet rather than as an occasional snack food, are not able to very easily switch to good healthy food later on in their development.
This is because they have not cultivated an appetite for such foods. A steady supply of junk food tricks the body and the brain into believing that this is the only food for them. Finally, junk food is just plain appealing to us because, in many instances, it tastes great!
We know what happens to our bodies if we choose to live with a steady diet of junk food.  But let me introduce to you what I call "junk food religion." I would challenge each one of us that a steady diet of junk food religion can be as damaging to the soul as a steady diet of junk food is to the body.
What is junk food religion?  One of the most glaring examples I can think of was from a radio station I was listening to as I was flipping through channels on a trip we took to Dallas. I actually looked it up on the Internet when I got home because I didn’t realize it was a real song, and sure enough it is.
It went like this: “I don’t care if it rains or freezes, as long as I’ve got my plastic Jesus sitting on the dashboard of my car.” Then, as the choir was getting quiet, we heard the voice of some preacher getting louder, telling us that if we truly wish to be safe in our travels, we will send a minimum of $25 to his ministry and we will receive our own plastic Jesus to put on our dashboards and we'll be assured a safe ride. This is junk food religion at its worst.
However, there are many subtle forms of junk food religion out there, passing themselves off as Christianity, and we have to be careful. It is a kind of religion that combines elements of society and makes religion a very comfortable experience for people.
Any expression of faith that says that all you have to do is have faith and you will get everything you desire, that is a junk food religion. Anytime anyone tells you that being a Christian is easy, you don’t have to sacrifice, you don’t have to worry about commitment, you don’t have to be bothered with dedication, this is a diet rich in junk food religion. When we are told we don’t have to stand for issues of justice, or anytime we are told it’s OK to exclude people from our body because they don’t look, think, act, fall in love or talk like us, that is a form of junk food religion.
For, you see, the true Gospel of Jesus Christ is really out of step with what we are seeing in so many parts of our world.  The healthy Gospel, or healthy religion, tells us that we have to fight for justice for all, that we have to love all people even though we may not agree with them or even like them very much. The healthy Gospel tells us that we need to remain committed to the cause of Christ and not redefine it to make it easier or more palatable.
We are called by our creator to be wary of the call of junk food religion. It may look better, it may taste better, and it may make many fewer demands on our time and resources, but, like a steady diet of junk food, a steady diet of junk religion, is rotting to the soul and cancerous to our maturing in our faith.
If we maintain this diet for too long, we will completely lose sight of what the Gospel of Jesus Christ is telling us.