Going Against the Grain

An old Jewish man goes to a diner every day for lunch. He always orders the soup du jour. One day the manager asks him how he liked his meal.  The old man replies, “Wass goot, but you could give a little more bread.”  So the next day the manager tells the waitress to give him double the amount of bread, four slices instead of two. “How was your meal, sir?” the manager asks. “Wass goot, but you could give a little more bread” comes the reply.  So the next day the manager tells the waitress to double the bread again eight slices. “How was your meal today, sir?” the manager asks. “Wass goot, but you could give a little more bread,” comes the reply.  The manager is now obsessed with seeing this customer say that he is satisfied with his meal, so he tells the waitress to cut the entire loaf length-wise into two halves and include each with the meal.  When the man comes in as usual the next day the manager now thinks he will finally get the answer he is looking for.  So when the old man comes up to pay for his meal, the manager asks in the usual way: “How was your meal today, sir?”  The old man replies: “It wass goot as usual, but I see you are back to giving only two slices of bread!”

When God brought the Jewish people into Canaan, it was a place containing two grains (wheat and barley) that were to be used to do a lot of baking (loaves of bread).  The Bible says in the Book of Deuteronomy 8:8-9, “A land of wheat and barley … A land wherein thou shalt eat bread without scarceness.”

And these two grains found their way into every aspect of Israeli life.  In the Old Testament, bread was  part of their: yearly harvest (Ruth 1:22), daily diet (Genesis 14:18), commercial exports (I Kings 5:11), required sacrifices (Exodus 12:8), and priestly duties (Exodus 25:30).  As a matter of fact – to have a great wheat and barley crop was a sure sign of God’s pleasure (Psalm 81:16), but to not have the same was a sure sign of God’s displeasure (Lamentations 4:4).  In the New Testament, Jesus: is seen eating bread (Luke 24:30), multiplying bread (Mark 6:41), referring to self as bread (John 6:32), speaking of his body as bread (Matthew 26:26) and teaching us pray for daily bread (Luke 11:3).

Question – “Pastor, if gluten-containing grains, like wheat and barley, are so clearly provided by God and promoted in His Word as being good for you; how then can it be unhealthy for a non-celiac to, diet-wise, do just the opposite and abstain from consuming both of them?”

Answer – It is the belief that the ancient wheat and barley of Moses’ and Jesus’ day was very different from what we have now.  That is – today’s grains are bred to: grow must faster, produce bigger yields, and be harvested more efficiently; all resulting in a gluten that is greater in quantity, different in composition, and  doing more harm than good.

The bottom line?  Biblically, food is never to be an issue in the church (Romans 14:1-23) and we should always be willing to break bread one with another; even if one person’s slice has gluten and the other’s is gluten-free.

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