I have a confession to make. It's kind of personal, but I want to be transparent, so here goes...
I don't eat bacon.
Maybe that should be followed by an exclamation point. People seem to not believe this when I tell them. They say, "Who doesn't like bacon? Everything's better with BACON!"
Um... (raises hand)
Me - I don't like bacon. Never have, in fact. Oh, I tried, I really did. Tried cooking it till it was brown and crispy. Ick. Tried cooking it limp and greasy. Double ick. Finally just resigned myself to occasionally eating something I didn't like to keep others happy.
I think the root cause was simply my overall aversion to meat fat. I was always the kid who obsessively trimmed all the fat off my steaks and chops. (Doctors now say I was right about that all along - who knew?) If my serving of pork and beans happened to get the little square of fat that passed for meat, I shuddered in disgust. And bacon is mostly fat, with a little meat slipped in.
Just didn't like it.
But I ate it anyway. Kept everybody happy, avoided confrontation. That's another of my characteristics (quirks? failings?). I really don't like confrontation - but that's another story for another day.
Until one day God challenged me. About bacon? Seems like kind of a petty thing for the Creator of the Universe to be concerned about. But as always, He was after something deeper in me.
The Bible says our destiny is to be conformed to the image of Jesus Christ. (Romans 8:29)
God's desire is for our character to be like His, and with me, it's a slow process.
So the conversation, entirely in my thoughts, went something like this:
Why are you eating bacon? Uh, I don't know...
Do you like it? No, not really
Is it good for you? No, really not
So why eat it? It keeps everybody happy
Is pleasing people more important than pleasing God?
I really didn't want to answer that last question.
The honest answer is, of course not - but I was behaving as if it was. So I repented. That doesn't mean just saying you're sorry and hoping you're out of trouble. Real repentance requires a change of behavior. Stop doing the thing you know is wrong.
So I quit eating bacon. And I'm happier and healthier for it.
But this leads to a potential danger, one it's easy to fall into. I'm convinced God doesn't want me eating bacon. It's not much of a leap from there to thinking, "If I shouldn't eat bacon, neither should anybody else". I could become the anti-bacon evangelist, preaching to all the bacon-eating sinners about the evils of consuming swine flesh. I could start my own church, the NO BACON church. Because truly holy people who are able to hear from God would surely agree that bacon is evil.
Okay, that's ridiculous. But something similar happens all the time.
People receive a revelation from God - what to eat, how to dress, what kind of music is acceptable, the right day to worship - the list is endless. And the insight is probably genuine - for them. But they think everybody should have the same freedoms and limitations that they do. So they start preaching their revelation rather than seeking Jesus, and end up putting others under bondage.
You see, not eating bacon is freedom for me. But forcing others to give it up would be legalism.*
The Apostle Paul said it best: "Who are you to condemn God's servants? They are responsible to the Lord, so let Him tell them whether they are right or wrong." (Romans 14:4 NLT)
The important thing is to seek God with your whole heart. He's promised we'll find Him if we do that. (Jeremiah 29:13) As you draw near to Him, God will begin revealing His will for you. And the cool thing is, He likes variety. (I mean, untold trillions of snowflakes and never a duplicate? Dude...)
So He treats each of us as individuals. Every human ever born has been one of a kind. Even identical twins, with the same exact DNA, have different fingerprints.
There's no one size fits all plan. God loves us so much, He'll help each of us develop the character of Jesus. And the way there is different for everybody.
For me, eschewing bacon is one small step in the right direction. Please God, not men.
I have a long way to go, but I am on my way. And the journey, while often difficult, is never boring.
*For this reason, bacon is allowed in my house. My wife and children love it, and consume it with gusto. They also enjoy teasing me about my NO BACON church. Someday they'll see the light... [grin]