It was a Tuesday and the pace of
work had been fast and furious when the sound of my growling stomach forced
me to look at my watch and discover that it was way past lunch. Heading downtown,
being led by my taste buds, I walked into a local restaurant. I didn’t
need a menu; I wanted a nice, juicy hamburger. You know, the kind that you
need extra napkins for. The kind that you need to eat by yourself because
it’s never polite to open your mouth that wide in public.
The young lady taking my order
asked if I would like to try the “Atkins-friendly” hamburger.
Seeing the puzzled look on my face, she went on to explain that instead of
a bun, I would hold onto the burger with two pieces of lettuce. I don’t
think she caught my quip when I asked if the lettuce could be slightly toasted.
Since then I have learned how
to eat tomato-basil-wrapped subs, and on a good day I can hold my breath just
long enough to get past the bakery. I have even become accustomed to the Atkins-friendly
lingo that now seems to permeate every restaurant, supermarket and food commercial.
The basic concept behind this
trend is essentially a low-carbohydrate and high- protein diet — light
on the sugars and heavy on the meats.
As I considered this diet’s
phenomenal impact on our culture, it hit me — we need “Atkins-friendly”
churches. Quite possibly the thought came to me as a result of sugar deprivation,
but I believe that its meaning ran deeper than that.
We live in a culture where it
has become apropos to sugarcoat the truth. Instead of messages from our pulpits
being drenched in the convicting power of the Holy Spirit, we often get frosted
sermons with the spiritual nutritional value of a donut hole.
Hebrews 5:12 speaks of a dilemma
that has continued with the passage of time: “By this time you ought
to be teachers yourselves, yet here I find you need someone to sit down with
you and go over the basics on God again, starting from square one —
baby’s milk, when you should have been on solid food long ago”
Where many of us should be teachers
of the Word, we instead are in need of being taught. We have become used to
the sweetness of milk and have not yet developed an appetite for the solid
food of the Word’s deeper truths.
We live in an era where we have
at our fingertips the best materials, the best technology and the greatest
opportunity to make an eternal difference for lost souls; yet we grasp for
sweet social conformity and bypass eternal instruction that still changes
If our spiritual diet is “high-carb
and low-protein,” if we prefer the sweets to the meat, our lives will
suffer, our spiritual energy will be diminished and our effectiveness will
God is still calling us to a place
where we have a steady diet of solid spiritual food and a hunger to understand
the deeper things of God. In a culture that is embracing an Atkins-friendly
approach to nutrition, we also need “Atkins-friendly” churches
where the meat of the Word is served.
J.D. Mallory is
pastor of First Assembly of God in Morganton, N.C.
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