Cafeteria christianity

Published 7:00 am Saturday, May 12, 2018

By Fr.Jonathan J. Filkins 

Say we have a bit of a calling to satisfy that gnawing emptiness in the bottom of our tummies. Being from the South, we often feel the siren call to find a buffet. Now, it can’t be any old buffet. It has to be one with many yards of delectable comestibles. After all, we do like choices in our cuisine.

Seeing the large sign of the intended, off in the distance, our taste buds awake and the salivating begins in anticipation of what is to come.

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Quickly parking, as we enter our noses are assaulted by the numerous smells emanating from the steam tables, dessert displays, salad bars and kitchens. We have arrived! It is time to put on the feed bag. Gabbing a plate, we begin to make our decisions; our choices.

Immediately, we select the chicken fried steak and mashed potatoes; all slathered up in a brown gravy. Next, we add some well-cooked green beans, as they look to have a bit of ham. Additional sides are added, until our plates can take no more and we gently amble to our table and begin the feast.

Some of the viewed items have not suited our fancy. The broccoli never was under consideration. 

The chicken gizzards didn’t look “right,” so we passed on them. On our second trip, we never seriously considered the salad bar, other than a large dollop of potato salad. After the third trip, and a long encounter with the desserts, we groaned in our satiation and rapid surrender to that semi-comatose condition brought on by a fully belly. Often, there is a comment, “I need a nap,” as we hoist ourselves away from the groaning board of our self-imposed predicament.

Typically, much of what we have ingested is not particularly the best for us. Sure, there may be some guilt associated, mostly after the fact, with the experience. However, the guilt usually wanes as our digestions take their course.

At the end of the day, we have satisfied our cravings and have achieved our goal of satisfying our gastronomical needs.  In our decision, to stop at the buffet, we have an inward knowledge that we shall be able to make many choices; as we select some and refuse others.

Our lives are very much like that, as we make choices, both for good and ill, which impact our paths. Some are healthy for us, some are not.

Our relationship with God and Jesus Christ is very much like this. Yet, we get so enamored with making choices and assuming that they are ours to make, our relationships become much like the buffet we chose to select. As if we are at the buffet, grocery store, hardware, or beauty salon, we give ourselves the license to pick and choose God’s Commandments and His direction for us. “Well,” we may say, “that was then and this was now,” or something akin. “Yes, I have read Scripture, and it says something very different to me.”

The Great Danger, of not being with Christ after our time on Earth, is making improper choices, and of using the self-deception of Cafeteria Christianity. It is when we pick and choose what is easy and what we want and reject what is difficult and unpleasant. As His creations, it is a natural behavior. Yet, in which He gives us the strength to overcome.

One of the touchstones, of Holy Scripture, are the Ten Commandments.

Given to Moses, as part the Old Covenant and reiterated as part of the New Covenant by Christ Jesus, they are the often-cited standards for our behaviors. One of the briefest is, “Thou shalt not lie.”

When we select some and then reject others of God’s words, through our own self-aggrandizement, we are in violation of this very Commandment; for we are lying to ourselves, and to God.

Let us not let Cafeteria Christianity stand between us and our true relationship with the Creator, as we read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest His holy word.