1 Timothy 4:3-7; 6:11 They will say it is wrong to eat certain foods. But God created those foods to be eaten with thanks . . . Since everything God created is good, we should not reject any of it but receive it with thanks. . . Be a worthy servant of Christ Jesus, one who is nourished by the message of faith. Do not waste time arguing . . . Instead, pursue faith, love, perseverance, and gentleness.
When Dave and I were newly married, neither of us made much money. He was completing his PhD dissertation and I was in nursing school. We lived in an efficiency apartment (with our bed lofted and a sleeper sofa for guests) and pinched every penny two or three times.
One day we received the delightful news that dear friends were traveling to our town and wanted to stay with us. I prepared with joy what I thought would be a special dinner. But when I served the meal, they told me they couldn’t eat it because they were on a special diet. Armed with a list of their requirements, off I went to the grocery store to start over on dinner.
“David, what will we do?” I asked him after our guests left the next morning. “That one meal cost half of our food budget for the month!”
“Well, we still have the meal you prepared for them originally. And there’s nothing wrong with beans and rice! We’ll be fine. Wasn’t it great to see them and catch up with what God is doing in their lives?”
That was one of many times I have thanked God that my husband is not a picky eater. A connoisseur he is not, but it’s a great gift for a missionary to have a flexible palate. Dave happily tries anything and he’s thankful for whatever is served to him in whatever continent or country. One week in Africa he was served rice and a small smoked fish for every lunch and every dinner the whole week. Breakfast was a hunk of bread and coffee. That didn’t matter to the work he was there to partner with God in doing. He came home excited, “nourished by the message of faith” of the wonderful people there.
I’ve noticed on the internet a zillion different approaches to eating, many of them with precise specifications, not just of the food itself but of the equipment required to prepare it properly. Our missional lifestyle doesn’t usually work that way. We feel grateful to have food to eat, when so many in the world are going hungry. And we would rather put our resources to work around the world in different ways than investing in a gourmet kitchen. Eating simply, out of the abundance that God has created, for us is joy.
We know this is countercultural. We honor as well as we can people’s dietary needs and preferences when we have guests. We understand that food—what they eat and what they don’t eat—is very important to many people. I’m thankful, though, that with all the challenges we have faced, in this way life has been easy for us.