To recap, we began this series on Kosher introducing and discussing Kosher as a healthy alternative. In part 1 of our series on Kosher, we then looked at what foods are considered Kosher, when to eat them, and what is used to prepare the kosher products. In part 2, we examined how kosher items are raised and handled. Now, in this third article, part 3, we will look at the spiritual aspects of eating Kosher.
The Spiritual aspects of keeping Kosher in my mind far exceed the clear physical benefits. These benefits revolve around: Holiness – following HaShems instructions, being like Messiah (and the first disciples), and discipline. Lets look at each of these.
Holiness is an important aspect of kosher, or if you prefer Sanctification, being set apart and made holy. HaShem (G-d) said, be holy for I am holy. Many people fail to understand what holiness is; they think of it as not sinning. That is only one side of holiness. Holiness is also doing what pleases G-d. Messiah summarized our responsibilities by saying, love G-d with all our heart, mind, soul and strength (defining our relation to G-d), and love our neighbor as ourselves. The literal meaning is interpreted as doing acts of love.
Kosher as an act of worship is loving G-d in a tangible way. It is putting His will above our own. It is putting what He says is good before our own understanding.
If youre not Jewish do you have to keep Kosher? Absolutely not. But if you choose to as an act of love and devotion to G-d, then no one has the right to criticize you. It is in many ways about identification, boundaries, and declaring who you belong too. Joshua said it perfectly, As for me and my house, we will serve the L-rd.
Being Like Messiah
Messiah kept Kosher His entire earthly life, as did His disciples (Talmidim). If you look closely at scripture, Kosher was not even an issue until Paul went on his travels to the non-Jewish peoples. Acts 15 clearly forbids eating blood and things strangled, all part of Kosher. Kosher before that was assumed. Messiah also said if you love me, keep my commandments. What commandments are these, as we see he never gave a list, He only repeated those already given by G-d (HaShem).
Does that mean all non-Jewish (Gentiles) believers have to keep kosher? No, it does not; but it also does not forbid it. Pauls discussion on weaker brothers and what they eat is not about kosher, it clearly points to non-meat eating people who probably refrain from all meats due to fear it might have been offered to idols. Paul also says if we do not know if it was offered to idols we can eat with a clear conscience.
This idea of offering to idols is relevant today. Ever been to a Chinese restaurant where there are Buddhas or other idols? Look closely, is there a place where they offer some of the food prepared to the idols? In a restaurant we used to go to, there was a big Buddha at the entrance, but in a corner was a small shrine set-up where they offered food to him. Can a believer in Messiah eat at the restaurant? I would not even consider it as it is a clear sign the same food prepared for the patrons is being offered to idols and thus we, all Jews and Christians, are forbidden to eat it.
Part of being a disciple (Talmidim) is saying and doing what Messiah did. He and His followers would never eat food offered to idols, nor would they eat unkosher. If it is your desire to eat kosher to be more like Messiah, then go for it. It really is what Messiah would do.
Some consider discipline to be a four lettered word. In our modern society of no restraints and immediate gratification the thought of denying oneself is almost quaint. In reality though, HaShem requires us to deny ourselves. Messiah Himself said take up your cross (execution stake) and follow me. Messiah lived a life of discipline and calls us to do the same.
Many sins in and of themselves may not be forbidden actions as much as actions at a forbidden time. An example, sexual relations are good and holy, at the right time and with the right person. Sin is a perversion of the holy act by either engaging before marriage, or with an improper partner.
Kosher is an act of discipline, allowing only what is clean to enter the temple of G-d (HaShem)–our bodies. We would not think of taking a pig into the Holy Temple, but we choose to eat its meat? Of the three monotheistic religions only Christians eat pork.
So if you decide to eat Kosher, at what ever level, it is an act of discipline denying our wants (Pork roast does taste good) in favor of a life devoted to HaShem and His Messiah. It teaches us to control our wants and urges in favor of a higher purpose. If we can deny ourselves unclean food, what other urges can we control: maybe unwarranted anger and hatred, lust, greed, and covetedness?
Discipline in one part of our life tends to have positive benefits in all of our life. Specifically, what we eat matters–both for spiritual health, and for physical well being. What we put into this temple G-d has given us matters to both us and our children.
Remember kosher is a choice. Whether you do it for health or because you want to be more like Messiah, the choice is yours alone.
No one has the right to tell you what to do. We have been given a great gift by G-d, in His Messiah. We need to live in that gift and choose the path we believe will help us live healthy, productive, G-d centered lives. The choice of kosher for health is really up to you!