Junk Food

Charles J. Aebi

While working for a Jewish family to earn my way through college, I often found myself assigned to take the two pre-teen boys of the family out to eat. We had our pick of several restaurants in town; this prominent Jewish family had an account at each restaurant, and I was authorized to eat there with the boys and put it on the family tab. But the boys invariably wanted to go to the College Diner and fill up on hot dogs and potato chips or hamburgers and French fries, topped off with brownie a la mode. People haven't changed much; a common problem among young people is their filling up on "junk food" potato chips, pop, cookies, crackers, candy bars, and such like. Young people aren't the only ones, for fast food and neat packaging make junk food attractive to adults, too. We all eat more than our share of junk food, and our health suffers because of it.

What concerns me more is that many of God's people want to fill up on spiritual junk food. They gravitate toward churches that will supply them just that, so it is becoming popular to serve up a diet of spiritual junk food. Sermons are popular if they are light sermonettes long on nice illustrations, emotional stories, and psychological fillers; but short on time and short on doctrinal or expository applications of the word of God. Songs likewise are popular if they are only a few words in length and have relatively little in the way of solid doctrinal teaching in them. The Lord's supper is popular if diluted with a solo or a bit of drama. Heavy lessons on faith, repentance, and baptism are avoided in favor of light treatments on love and fellowship. Sermons or Bible class lessons that call for a change in life style or for becoming an active teacher of the lost are even less popular than plain, thorough lessons on the plan of salvation. "Touchy-feely" teaching is preferred to doctrinal studies, and discussion is usually thought to be better than lecture as a teaching method. Discussion can be a very useful way to teach, but, without prior study ("homework"), discussion can easily degenerate into a pooling of ignorance and an exchange of uninformed opinions.

Often people are asked what they would like to study in their Bible class, whether it is an adult class, teenage class, or even younger. Since it requires less effort to discuss something they already know about, they may opt for that rather than delving into unexplored Bible areas, or they might express a choice for some topic that is not Biblical at all but that they think will be exciting to talk about. One group chose to watch an episode of "Andy of Mayberry" and then discuss what lessons they could learn from it. They found it more interesting than lessons from the Bible. The problem is that people young in years or young in the faith may not know what they really need to learn, so they may choose spiritual junk food in much the same way as people choose snacks, chips, soft drinks, and candy instead of selecting nutritious physical food.

If we choose junk food for our spiritual diet, what will our spiritual health be like? When an apostle talked about the need for food for spiritual growth, he said, "As newborn babes, desire the pure milk of the word, that you may grow thereby" (1 Peter 2:2). Paul spoke of those who had not grown spiritually and still needed milk rather than solid food (1 Corinthians 3:2). Some who had been Christians long enough that they should have been teachers of others were still spiritual babies; they were unskilled in the word of righteousness and had not practiced the gospel enough to know good from evil (Hebrews 5:12-14).

It's something to think about! Junk food, whether physical or spiritual, is still junk food! 2660 Layman Rd., Vincent OH 45784. cjandi@juno.com


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