True Christian living requires us to live according to Kingdom standards which bring Heaven to earth.
A commentary on John Wesley's A Plain Account of Christian Perfection
By: Frank L. Hoffman
Jesus said, "Therefore you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect."
(Wesley's writings are in bold)
In the Garden of Eden, God created a myriad of plant foods for us and the animals to enjoy, and as He looked back upon all that He had made, He saw that it was "very good" (Genesis 1:11-12, 29-31). In this portion of the nineteenth part of John Wesley's A Plain Account of Christian Perfection, Wesley records a question, presented at the conference, which seeks to corrupt not only Wesley's concepts of Christian perfection, but the creation intent of God.
God's creation of both the plants we eat and the seasonings which we use to enhance the flavor seems to express God's desire for us to enjoy these foods. The challenge to our perfection is not in the enjoyment of what we eat, but in the source of what we eat, and whether or not it came to our plate through pain and suffering. Before commenting further, let's take a look at the question and Wesley's answer:
"Question. But can anyone who has a pure heart prefer pleasing to unpleasing food, or use any pleasure of sense which is not strictly necessary? If so, how do they differ from others?
"Answer. The difference between these and others in taking pleasant food is
(1) they need none of these things to make them happy, for they have a spring of happiness within. They see and love God. Hence they rejoice evermore, and in everything give thanks;
(2) they may use them, but they do not seek them;
(3) they use them sparingly, and not for the sake of the thing itself.
"This being premised, we answer directly: Such a one may use pleasing food, without the danger which attends those who are not saved from sin. He may prefer it to unpleasing, though equally wholesome food, as a means of increasing thankfulness, with a single eye to God, who giveth us all things richly to enjoy; on the same principle he may smell a flower, or eat a bunch of grapes, or take any other pleasure which does not lessen but increase his delight in God. Therefore neither can we say that one perfected in love would be incapable of marriage and of worldly business; if he were called thereto, he would be more capable than ever, as being able to do all things without hurry or carefulness, without any distraction of spirit.
The premise that Wesley addresses is that there is no imperfection with our enjoying food as long as such food does not become an idol before God. As an example, we would enjoy and thank God for the food before us, whether or not it was seasoned with salt. We rarely use salt in our recipes, and it's amazing how we never miss it. Our taste buds have adapted and we have noticed the true flavors of the various plant foods coming to the foreground, which enhances our enjoyment in eating them as well as our thankfulness.
Wesley doesn't even mention the animal issue, which is quite curious when we consider the fact that he was a vegetarian; however, on the other had, he doesn't mention any animal foods. Perhaps part of the reason is that people didn't eat animal flesh to the extent that people do today.
When we consider that about 300 million people in the United States cause the suffering and death of more than 10 billion land animals every year, just so they can eat them and their by-products, it becomes a prime factor in considering the effect on our being perfected in God's love. The standard American diet has made animal foods an idol, because most people complain when they don't have some animal foods on their plates, and they rarely, if ever, consider the pain and suffering involved. (See our Animal Exploitation Photo Journals)
When we consider that it takes approximately 15 times more farm land to produce animal foods than it does to produce plant foods, and that one third of the world is over-fed, mostly on animal foods, and that another third of the world is hungry, then we not only have made animal foods an idol, but we have ignored those whom Jesus told us to feed (see the previous chapter).
Since there is no pain or death in heaven, as we are told in Revelation 21:4, and since Jesus told us to be perfect as our Father in heaven is perfect (Matthew 5:48) and to pray that our Father's heavenly will be done on earth as it is in heaven (Mathew 6:10), isn't it logical that having suffering and death on people's plates compromises Christian perfection? We believe it does!
Go on to: Chapter 19 K - Can Children be Born with Perfection?
Return to: Christian Perfection Table of Contents
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