I've had some time to think since the last post regarding food, so I'd like to follow it up a bit and address that last line:
Then I'll pick another rest'rant
Mark Driscoll once quoted a woman from India who, after being some time in the US, said she couldn't stomach the rampant idolatry here. While we might think idolatry is far more prevalent in India, he said she was referring to our televisions in every living room, our massive sports arenas, and our restaurants on every corner. She said our stomachs are our god. (As for the televisions, a discussion of entertainment is coming soon...)
Simple living seeks to love our neighbors as ourselves in rejecting selfish arrogance. The other important principle is that it seeks to love God with all we've got by rejoicing in his blessings and rejecting the world's empty promises of happiness. When it comes to eating out, let's be thankful for the opportunity to do so, and give glory to God in enjoying it. After all, He made taste buds. (Although it is interesting to note that the first sin showed itself as a desire to satisfy taste.)
On the other side, we must reject the lie that our happiness is dependent on the food we eat. Consider the great and precious spiritual blessings God has bestowed upon us in heavenly places in Christ (Eph. 1:3). What is food in comparison? Store your treasures in heaven.
As a final word on the primary importance of giving thanks when we eat food, consider the mention in Scripture of "blessing" a meal. People today often say some kind of prayer or "grace" before stuffing their faces. Why is this done? Is it wrong not to pray? Does the food chemically change when it is "blessed" so that we become better nourished?
A friend told me of an experiment: Two identical dishes were ordered. One was prayed over and the other was not. Two out of two taste-testers agreed; the dish prayed over tasted better.
But really, I challenge anyone to find me any bit of Biblical evidence for such an idea. What I find is that blessing a meal and saying a prayer of thanks are the same thing. The phrases seem to be used interchangeably, as in the accounts of Jesus feeding the multitudes or at the Last Supper. I think that it's cool not to pray before a meal if instead you pray in thankfulness with every bite, with a sense of awe in God's sustaining power in even the chemical and biological processes that bring us nourishment and continued physical life. How is it that we can be so religious about prayer before a meal, yet turn around and toss in the trash that for which we claim to be thankful for?
(Check out 1 Tim. 4:3-6, or 1 Cor. 10:30-31.)
There is much more that can be said! There are issues like attending luxurious restaurants in order to flaunt one's status, how to tip your server, and how eating out on Sunday is different. You might guess I feel strongly about this stuff. This and more coming when I get around to it...