Through most of my growing-up years, my parents owned a restaurant. We ate most of our meals there, with a nice salad bar available just about any time of the day.
My father usually made sure that he had a salad along with his lunch or dinner. As long as he ate lettuce, even if it was thoroughly doused with Thousand Island dressing and the rest of the meal was fried chicken, mashed potatoes and gravy, a few vegetables and chocolate pudding for dessert . . . that didn’t matter. He believed that as long as he faithfully included a salad, he would stay healthy and even lose weight.
“No, Father,” we would tell him, “it does not work like that. Just eating lettuce doesn’t make you lose weight if you eat all these other things along with it!” He was never convinced.
This Lesson From My Father is sort of a reverse truth, that is, a way of thinking that is not at all accurate. It makes me think of how some of us handle our spiritual diet. If we have a dose of Bible reading in the morning, or a few minutes of prayer, we think that we can take in whatever is streaming through the computer feed or TV screen the rest of the day. We can listen to junk, look at junk, read junk and even think junk. Because we have done our spiritual duties, the rest doesn’t really matter. We assume that surely God will protect us and keep us healthy in spirit as long as we include something good in the mixed-up heap of what we take in.
Again, “No, it does not work like that.” One insertion of the Word or one chorus of praise does not suffice. We are called, rather, to dwell in God’s presence and cut off anything that contaminates.
Sure, it is still good to eat your lettuce. A lot of it, actually! But what else are we eating along with it?