~Redemptive Stewardship and Our Dinner Table~
At the Eden Homestead at Acts2School, our Lord has been guiding us in showing what we are to teach about for those who come here for discipleship training as an integral part of our lifestyle curriculum.
We have been two years in a wilderness receiving instruction here in Vero Beach Florida.
I hope that as we offer discipleship training to those who sign up for it, that the Spirit of God will awaken those who seek a deeper relationship with God, and with their family in Christ and with those who live in their communities.
One of the most powerful ways to do this can be found in sharing meals at our dinner table.
As we eat and drink at our table with our neighbors and loved ones, we see a more profound message and reminder emerging in our everyday lives.
Here are some things we have discovered concerning this:
In a modern world where the majority of us don’t raise animals for food as our grandparents and previous generations once did, we have unconsciously been divorced from any connection with the life of an animal from the meat found on our dinner plate.
To further escape this reality, we more often refer to an animal as “protein,” or as a specific cut of meat as in the case of the Chicken…
What was once a chicken now becomes Chicken Breasts, Thighs, or Wings…
What was once a Cow, now becomes “Beef”.
What was once a Pig, now becomes “Pork”.
Fish are more often referred to by species…
One thing is for sure in this modern world; Consideration of the life of an animal, which lies behind the meaning of meat has been greatly diminished and drained of its meaning by our distance from the process by which it arrived to our dinner plate.
It is a creature, made by God, which has been sacrificed so that we may live.
For some people, the idea of killing any creature is reprehensible.
This may be an unacceptable practice for those of you who are vegetarians.
As for me, and most other people I know, eating meat is a normal part of everyday life.
Still, even if you are a vegetarian, I think we are all missing something fundamental in how we think concerning the practice of eating meat.
Today, we have far lesser a connection to the roots of mortality in considering the cycle of life and death, nor do we want to admit that we are bound somehow to this cycle.
We dare not stand on the edge of life and look into the abyss toward the understanding that we are all dependent creatures ourselves, who, if we ceased to eat, we would soon cease to exist.
I believe that part of this is because in these modern times, most of us eat for pleasure rather than to stay alive.
What I mean by this is that when we are hungry, our minds seldom go beyond the thought that our hunger is anything more than a mere simple reminder that it is time for us to eat.
Most of us do not take it as a sign of our dependence on food for life, or consider mortality, nor do we consider it as much as an act of survival.
And upon eating, it is often our tongues & our taste buds that we are most concerned with.
Shouldn’t eating be a delightful and pleasurable experience?
God gave us taste buds for a reason!
Could it be that we have lost something in forgetting that we must eat to stay alive, and that the struggle to find food to eat for many people in this word is indeed a matter of life or death?
I often wonder if have we forgotten that meat was once a living creature?
This is an unacceptable reality for many us in considering that the meaning of meat goes beyond a nutrition, and that our protein was once alive and that someone had to take its life.
As Scripture says: ‘life is in the blood’.
In our unwillingness to admit this, are we actually cheapening the value of life and the meaning of the meat that we are serving at our table?
Or are we merely living out of routine and ritual when we eat?
Is our thanksgiving for the food we eat born out of understanding, and honoring of the life that was taken which lies before us on our dinner plate?
How do we go from seeing meat as merely something to consume, toward seeing it as a fundamental reminder that we are both mortal and that we are stewards of the life and death of the animals we eat?
Of course then we must also begin to wonder…
How are we actually stewarding the life and death of this animal?
What conditions was it raised in?
Which system has brought this meat to my plate?
Is it a process that honors God?
Is it a process that honors the life of the animal?
The first time I had witnessed the butchering of a chicken was this past May at Joel Salatin’s place at Polyface Farms in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia while working on a film project.
It was a solemn, sobering, and very profound experience.
One that remains with me to this very day.
Whenever I eat a chicken since that time at Polyface Farm, the meaning of what took place for me to have meat rushes right to the center of my dinner plate.
It is no longer a commodity, and my prayerful thanksgiving to God before eating is one of a far deeper and more profound sense of gratefulness.
It is a gratefulness that connects me further to God, and further toward respecting the life of the animal, which gave it’s life.
Since that experience, I understand much more than ever what it means to put food on the table.
I have a far more profound understanding as well of redemptions cost as a reminder given to me each and every day at the dinner table.
A life had been taken so that mine can be prolonged.
I believe that much of this was behind God’s intention when he had Spoken to Noah when He said:
“The fear and dread of you will fall on all the beasts of the earth, and on all the birds in the sky, on every creature that moves along the ground, and on all the fish in the sea; they are given into your hands. Everything that lives and moves about will be food for you. Just as I gave you the green plants, I now give you everything.”“But you must not eat meat that has its lifeblood still in it”
When one considers this in light of eating meat, one discovers something profoundly redemptive in the words which God spoke to Noah, as well as a practical reminder of redemption, which can be found in each and every meal, and the greatest price of a life given for us to have ours .
I don’t want to disparage those who hold to a vegetarian diet except to say that it doesn’t carry the same meaning and message as it does for those who eat meat.
Here is the difference which I have discovered:
Although plants are sentient, unlike other living creatures, plants don’t have blood, and as such, this has even further removed us from having any aversion in considering the life of the food items on our table.
This is especially so when considering that plants don’t contain blood, and the life is in the blood.
This further alleviates the conscience & connection for us when we eat fruits and vegetables.
I know that many vegetarians have strong feelings against those of us who eat meat.
And since the life is in the blood, it becomes easier to become further disconnected from the redemptive message God has given us by way of reminder to many of us who eat three meals a day.
I don’t say this to disparage anyone who eats a vegetarian, or even a diet that includes meat, but I mention this for consideration of God’s words to Noah, and the profound implication and message it brings to the table; especially for those of us who eat meat as part of our meal.
But know that most of us who do eat meat experience that very same twinge in our conscience whenever those rare moments come when we actually consider the cost of the life of the animal whose life was given for our consumption.
The repulsion we feel as a result, when we consider these things not only brings cruelty to the forefront of our minds, but this also gives way to a reminding and consideration of the cost of what has been set before us.
I believe that God gave the command of eating meat for the purpose of reminding us of the precious cost of redemption as a means of instruction.
For all of us, it is a bitter truth to swallow.
Just imagine the implications our Jewish brethren had experienced when God instructed them to take a lamb without blemish into their homes for four days before sacrificing it and consuming it.
Just try to imagine the feelings this must have evoked amongst our Jewish brethren!
It must have seemed a cruel and brutal practice to sacrifice, let alone eat an innocent lamb after having it in their homes for four days.
I’d bet there was an emotional trauma that took place when eating at that particular meal, which hadn’t been ever experienced before that time.
I believe God commanded this so that Israel wouldn’t lose the profound significance and cost of their redemption.
To this very day since God gave His command to Noah, we too experience a prick in our conscience when considering our choice of what we eat.
Are you beginning to see God’s message to us begin to emerge even more now at our dinner tables?
Despite your choice of diet, I pray that you are!
Eating goes far beyond being merely a physical act.
It is profoundly spiritual.
Consider that mankind’s first rebellious act came through the means of eating.
And eating is connected to the kingdom!
If you remember in Lukes account of the feeding of the 5000, you’ll discover that after the meal, the people wanted to declare Christ as King.
Fact is, the Spirit of God is awakening the body of Christ, as He prepares us for the Marriage supper of the Lamb!
Let us use our tables as God’s image bearers in inviting our neighbors to the table.