Sunday, 7 April 2013


by Colin Bloom

On Good Friday, a friend of mine went to the service station to fill his wife's car up with fuel. He'd just squeezed in the last drop, the tank was trimmed to the brim and he was feeling pleased with himself at this act of marital kindness. His satisfaction was short lived, because as he looked down he saw he was holding a green unleaded petrol nozzle. His wife's car is a what Ringo Starr would call a Diseasal.

It cost my friend nearly £300 to get his mistake fixed. It would have cost him a great deal more if he had attempted to drive the car away. It could have been terminal. For the car that is; his marriage would probably have survived.

This little story made me think about the sort of fuel we put into ourselves. It reminded me of the Old Testament Israelite character Daniel. He was a Royal or a Noble from the  tribe of Judah and along with his friends Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego he was dragooned into the Babylonian King's court, where he eventually became the highest ranking Official across the land.

The first thing we are told about Daniel and his friends is that they were extraordinarily discriminating about what they fuelled themselves with. During their early training, Daniel refused to eat the fine foods and wine from the King's table, but rather chose a simple, rather plain, vegetarian diet. The only drink they took, we are told, was water. Perhaps unsurprisingly these four young men ended up looking healthier, fitter, stronger and more productive than the cohort they came with.

What does this have to say to us? What can we learn from Daniel's rather picky diet?

For me, the lesson isn't actually about food, it's about culture. It's about the cultural fuel we nourish ourselves with. Our four friends allowed themselves to be culturally assimilated into Babylonian life in almost every way; these Israelites allowed their names to be changed, they changed their language and the clothes they wore. They became very much part of the culture of their age, but in so doing they did not defile themselves by what they filled their tanks with. They were deliberate about what they took into themselves.

So should we be. We need to be careful not to defile ourselves with what we take in; what we furnish our minds with. If we fill our eyes, ears and minds with the wrong fuel isn't that the same as my friend filling his wife's car with the wrong fuel? We might get as far as the end of the road, but it would be slow, smelly and we might not make it much further.

So if we want to be like Daniel, we need to be extraordinarily discriminating about what we fuel our lives with too.

1 comment:

Ian Gallehawk said...


This article touched several points for me.

Recently, I drove happily into Sainsbury’s and promptly put petrol into my diesel car. With nobody else to blame, I called the AA and paid up. Such is life.

Then you touch on food and vegetarianism, two important issues for me!

Why do Christians eat meat? If they followed God's original message, they wouldn’t contemplate it: Genesis 29 "God said, ‘See, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit; you shall have them for food. 30 And to every beast of the earth, and to every bird of the air, and to everything that creeps on the earth, everything that has the breath of life, I have given every green plant for food.’ And it was so".

God's covenant with Noah confuses things, Genesis 9: 9 God blessed Noah and his sons, and said to them, ‘Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth. 2 The fear and dread of you shall rest on every animal of the earth, and on every bird of the air, on everything that creeps on the ground, and on all the fish of the sea; into your hand they are delivered. 3 Every moving thing that lives shall be food for you; and just as I gave you the green plants, I give you everything. 4 Only, you shall not eat flesh with its life, that is, its blood.

This is a very strange direction. We all know that it would be absolutely impossible to eat meat that doesn't contain blood, so why does God give this instruction to Noah?

Perhaps God is now allowing the consumption of eggs and milk? After all, His original instruction was very clear, plants only!

Could the God of all things ever approve of factory farming, the grinding up of male chickens because they don't produce eggs or the taking of calves from their mothers so that cows can be used as constantly pregnant milk machines? The list of animal abuse is endless.

You touch on something very important here, what we put into ourselves. When we eat meat, we put more that a murdered animal into us. We put in the total lack of humanity and compassion required to engage in the meat industry.

I suggest that now is the time to show the compassion of Jesus to all creatures, human or otherwise!