Safe to Eat

Thank you for everyone’s help and excitement during the Block Party. I can’t wait to have another one next year! Part of the preparation for the day’s event was to obtain a Temporary Food Permit. I had no idea the requirements for serving food were so stringent. We wanted to serve the safest food possible, which is more involved than cooking food and having a Food Handler’s Certificate.
When they arrived, the Health Inspector was most concerned about keeping Time for Controlled Foods out of the danger zone between 41℉and 135℉. Bacteria and viruses thrive between these temperatures. Therefore, you want to move them out of this range as quickly as possible, either by cooling or heating them to the desired temperatures. We can all agree that keeping bacteria out of our food is good.

One aspect I didn’t fully comprehend before Saturday was how quickly bacteria can spread once they start to grow. Because of the rapid nature of its growth, if one portion of the food falls out of this safe category, you must discard the entire batch of food. Therefore, the whole tray had to be thrown out because one tomato didn’t meet the inspector’s temperature standards. For many of us, that seemed excessive; it is difficult to watch the food being thrown away, yet by their standards, some of the food did not meet the criteria.
This same warning is often issued to Jesus’ followers regarding the proliferation of corrupt ideals. Interestingly enough, it happens at both ends of the religious spectrum. Much like the temperature danger zone, the most dangerous location is when the food is lukewarm…
Mark 8:15 – “And he cautioned them, saying, “Watch out; beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and the leaven of Herod.”
Mark’s record gives us the best understanding that the teachings of the Pharisees and the lives of the Herodians were dangerous. One imposed unnecessary religious burdens that the people were unable to carry (Matthew 23:4), and the other sought political power through their earthly leaders (Matthew 22:16-22). What about outright sinful behavior? Paul informs us that this also falls into the danger zone.
1 Corinthians 5:6-8 – “Your boasting is not good. Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump? 7 Cleanse out the old leaven that you may be a new lump, as you really are unleavened. For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed. 8 Let us therefore celebrate the festival, not with the old leaven, the leaven of malice and evil, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.”
Prior to the Passover, the Jews celebrated the Feast of Unleavened Bread; during this festival, all yeast must be removed from the house (Exodus 12:15-19). The yeast removal had to happen before the Passover; Paul asserts that our Passover has already happened, and Christ has been crucified. And we participate in that sacrifice when we belong to Christ. For a Jew, it would be impossible to participate in the Passover and have the corrupting nature of leaven within your home.
The reason is apparent because a little bit of yeast infiltrates throughout the dough and consequently the entire home. You cannot have it both ways. You can’t participate in what corrupts you, be it the teachings of the Pharisees, Herodians, or the tolerance of evil. Whether you acknowledge it or not, it will take its hold on you and contaminate you.

The Health Inspector was clear: the only way to keep the food safe was to continually take its temperature and verify that it had not moved into the danger zone. If it does, the meal is not ruined; however, you must remove the part with the harmful bacteria so it is Safe to Eat.

** Paul’s words are directed toward Believers. We cannot remove ourselves from the world. But those who follow Jesus must practice their faith with truth and sincerity… we can’t be hypocrites. We must practice what we believe (Matthew 4:17). For further reading, follow Paul’s thoughts on 1 Corinthians 5:9-13. **

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