For the kingdom of God is not food and drink but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit; he who thus serves Christ is acceptable to God and approved by men. Let us then pursue what makes for peace and for mutual upbuilding. Do not, for the sake of food, destroy the work of God. Everything is indeed clean, but it is wrong for any one to make others fall by what he eats; it is right not to eat meat or drink wine or do anything that makes your brother stumble. (Romans 14:17-21)
In the Church, we are in the season of the Nativity Fast. In our culture, we are in the midst of the Christmas holiday rush. St. John Chrysostom offers us some thoughts about being Christian in a secular world – what important things do we need to remember to remain faithful to Christ? Can fasting help us be more Christ-like? Does eating make us more godly?
“So let us not grow tired until we reach the end; this, after all, was why we were made, not to eat and drink and wear clothes, but to avoid evil and choose virtue by adopting the divine value system. For proof, in fact, that we were not made for eating and drinking but for other far greater and better things, listen to God himself explaining the reason why he made the human being: at the time of its creation he spoke this way, “Let us make the human being in our image and likeness” [Genesis 1:26].
Now, we become like God not by eating and drinking and wearing clothes – but by practising righteousness, giving evidence of lovingkindness, being good and kind, showing mercy to the neighbor, pursuing every virtue;
eating and drinking we have in common with the nature of brute beast, and in that regard we are no better than they. But what is the basis of our superiority?
Being made in God’s image and likeness.”
(Old Testament Homilies, pp. 13-14)