Therefore do not let anyone judge you by what you eat or drink, or with regard to a religious festival, a New Moon celebration or a Sabbath day. These are a shadow of the things that were to come; the reality, however, is found in Christ. Colossians 2: 16-17
I recently got into a discussion with someone who claimed that the Bible says that anyone who doesn’t eat meat is a “fool.” I was genuinely surprised and puzzled. While I’ve heard the Biblical argument for vegetarianism, I’d never heard anyone suggest that the Bible mandates the eating of meat, and that those who decline to do so are “fools.”
Of course the proposition was so silly that I didn’t take it seriously. The Bible doesn’t say anything of the sort, and even if it did, it wouldn’t make sense in our post-legalistic age.
But I did find it interesting that folks who profess to be Christians could still be seriously advancing legalistic arguments with respect to food. The verse I quoted above is just one of many that definitively make religious food laws absolutely irrelevant to Christianity. Chapter 14 of Romans is probably the best explanation of it, but there are many others.
But thinking about the food question caused me to focus on the bigger message here. The transition from Pharisaic legalism to the freedom of Christianity must have been tumultous. Obedience to “the Law” had virtually defined what it meant to worship God. Jesus destroyed that notion. He openly challenged the legalism. He defied the Sabbath laws. He refused to follow religious customs. He exposed the entire system for the empty, meaningless farce that it was. That was the main thing that got him crucified. Jesus’ death is obviously rich with meaning, and there are many important messages to take from it. But one such message is that Jesus died for defying religious rules. And we are to model our lives after his. Hopefully our rejection of religious legalism won’t get us killed. But it might help get us saved.
So I say, with Paul, eat whatever you want. Drink whatever you want. Observe whatever religious festivals you like, or observe none at all. Observe whatever Sabbath day you want, however you like, or not at all. Don’t let anyone judge you by such things. They are all just shadows of reality.