Still One More Lesson: Attack of the Unleavened Tacos

When I wrote “One more Unleavened Bread lesson” a few days ago, I thought that would be the last one, but I had a new one a few days ago that I thought might be worth setting down in ink. (Or electrons, as the case may be.)

I had a trip out of town on ministerial business that saw me leaving rather hastily and not taking anything to eat with me, though the trip would end up keeping me out until far past dinner time. So, that night I eventually visited the “drive thru” of a popular fast food joint to grab some corn flour (and unleavened) “hard shell” tacos. (I won’t mention the name of the joint, but it rhymed with Spock Hotel…) I used the drive thru, because I didn’t want to lose any time on the road.

Well, it wasn’t long before I realized that eating “hard shell” tacos and driving my van didn’t mix well at all, unleavened or not. How I managed to do that without making a total mess or killing any of my fellow highway travelers is beyond me. Those crunchy tacos may have provided a quick meal and been completely “legal” during the Days of Unleavened Bread, but it was readily apparent that they were a bad idea.

At that moment of realization a scripture leapt to mind: ”All things are lawful for me, but not all things are helpful…” — found at the beginning of both 1 Corinthians 6:12 and 1 Corinthians 10:23.

Now, some get all bent out of shape and fall into the error Peter describes in 2 Peter 3:15-17 concerning these verses, as if Paul truly thought that the law was done away and there is nothing unlawful anymore. That’s just plain hogwash. The context within that book, itself, makes it clear that Paul understood that some things were unlawful (e.g., consider his disfellowshipping of the fellow in 1 Corinthians 5 for a relationship condemned in Leviticus 20:11, or his description of hearing things which “it is not lawful for a man to utter” in 2 Cor. 12:2). He was addressing the licentious attitude of the Corinthians and their abuse of proper Christian freedom. [For example, the Corinthians were certainly free not to stone the fellow discussed in 1 Corinthians 5 — the penalty prescribed in Leviticus 20:11 for such a sin — but they WERE to “put away from yourselves the evil person” as Paul says at the end of the chapter, which is what the law gives in numerous places to be the ultimate result of stoning (e.g., Deut. 17:6-7).]

Having said that, we tend to allow the willingness of others to abuse these scriptures in 1 Corinthians 6:12 & 10:23 to distract us from what Paul is saying. So what is he saying? He is saying that there are times when the fact that something is lawful for you is really irrelevant, because it is not helpful, it does not edify, or it represents a danger of bringing you under the power of another (as opposed to being the slave of Christ, alone). And there, eating perfectly “legal” and tasty crunchy tacos while trying to (A) stay in my lane on the highway, (B) keep my eyes on the road, and (B) not coat my pants or the upholstery of my van in taco meat, they may have been lawful, but they sure weren’t helpful!

When we focus too much on simply what we are allowed or not allowed to do, we can often miss the boat on a lot of more important issues, such as whether we should or should not do something. Paul understood this — and more, he lived it. Again, speaking to the Corinthians, he tells them of the time he spent with them completely supporting himself financially, even though he should have received their tithes and offerings to which he had a lawful right (1 Cor. 9:6-11).

Why did he not exercise this right? “Nevertheless,” he writes, “we have not used this right, but endure all things lest we hinder the gospel of Christ” (1 Cor. 9:12). He felt that it was too important at that time to win the Corinthians and strengthen them for God than to risk putting a stumbling block in their way. There were “bigger fish to fry,” so to speak. He saw the opportunity to help these confused people in their groping for God as being of more value that exercising his lawful right to collect their tithes and offerings in support of his work there. He saw that it was lawful for him to receive their financial support, but he also saw that it would not be helpful.

So, while I don’t plan to do it again, I am thankful for my crunchy taco highway adventure. (Of course, some of you are thinking, “How uncoordinated can he be? I eat crunchy tacos from Spock Hotel while driving my car all the time!” To which, I must ask: How do you do it? Do you drive with your feet? If you offer a correspondence course, I would be glad to apply…)

For those observing the Biblical holy days, have a wonderful last day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread!

11 thoughts on “Still One More Lesson: Attack of the Unleavened Tacos

  1. I tried doing the same sort of thing on the highway once, with a well-known restaurant’s chicken. Legs can be done one-handed, with the other hand on the steering wheel. Thighs really can’t.

    Think napkins, Pastor — lots of napkins. :–>

  2. For what it’s worth, and I don’t know how verifiable this is, but I was reading in my NKJ Study Bible on that phrase of “All things are lawful for me…” and was interested in their take on it. Ancient Corinth (I had the opportunity to visit modern Corinth at the Feast in ’89) was a popular sea port since it was on a narrow straight between mainland Europe and the Greek pennisula. I guess being the second busiest port outside of Athens made it a slimy place and thus it was known for its “morally challenged” people and activities. According to the Study Bible, I guess they were proud of this fact, and one of the idioms of the day was “All things are lawful for me!” if anybody questioned one’s activity. Or perhaps they just yelled it in the streets. So the folks at Nelson Publishing’s take was that Paul was using this as a lead in to addressing their lewd behavior since this was the norm of their day and location. Not that Paul was stating that anybody could do anything. I thought it was interesting, anyway.

  3. I don’t know (yet) how verifiable the idea is either (from extrabiblical sources, that is), but the RSV (for one) understands the phrase “all things are lawful for me” as something that the Corinthians would have said, and puts it in quotes accordingly.

  4. Ray Schaefer

    I think Jesus set the example when He said in John 4:34 that His food was to do the will of the Father, not just what the Father commanded. I get the impression Christ did not need a command or a law. If He knew the Father preferred a certain course of action, He would do it to please the Father whether God explicitly commanded it or not. So if we fallow His example, instead of only asking ourselves, “what does God command me to do?” or “what is lawful for me to do”, we will also ask ourselves, “what would God prefer that I do?”.

  5. Howdy, Mr. Schaefer (and others, as well!) —

    I believe that what has been said is helpful. There is great reason to believe that “All things are lawful” was a “slogan” that those in Corinth were using (and taking too far) to justify certain conduct. And Paul was not only confronting that, but was trying to give the bigger picture.

    Mr. Schaefer, I believe that it is the bigger picture to which you refer, and you are correct. Too often we think of God’s commands as a checklist and that our job is to make sure that we’ve got them all “checked off,” when our view should incorporate such a larger picture.

    It’s not that we should *ignore* God’s commands — saying one is interested in performing God’s will and then ignoring His commands would be just plain silly & irrational in anything but very odd circumstances. (I knew a young woman once (not in the Church of God) who wanted to begin her “Christian life” of “following Jesus” and who confessed that she believed that Jesus commanded her to be baptized to begin that life but who adamantly refused to be baptized and who thought that was OK. Did she *really* want to follow Jesus?)

    But Christ, Himself, makes the same point you do, I think, in Luke 17:7-10, the story concluding with, “when you have done all those things which you are commanded, say, ‘We are unprofitable servants. We have done what was our duty to do.'” God wants a people who are looking to do more than their duty. He is looking for those who want to make His will their will, and His goals their goals. In a sense, He isn’t hiring employees, He’s raising sons to run the family business.

    For the servant of Luke 17, it would have been different if, say, on the way to bed, he had seen his master’s cloak, thought, “There is a tear growing in that corner, and he will need to look his best tomorrow for his meeting with the bankers,” and then put off going to bed so that he could have time to mend it. Here the servant is not just looking to obey his master’s commands, but he is looking to be profitable — he is taking the success of his master’s business (in this case, the meeting with the bankers) as something that he, too, feels personally responsible for and something for which he wants to do his part.

    Christ tells us in John 15:15 that we are a part of the business in a way that simple servants are not, for we are friends, and we know what Our Master is doing.

    Thanks for the comment, Mr. Schaefer! I hope this holy days season has been immensely profitable for you and that we are all looking forward now to the Feast of Weeks!

    Best regards,
    Wallace Smith

  6. Ray Schaefer

    You are absolutely right Mr. Smith that we have to obey God’s commands, and that “doing God’s will” should not be an excuse for disobedience to what God actually says in the Bible. I forgot that many people do not believe what God says and follow their own opinions about what God’s will is rather than the Bible (keeping Christmas, Easter, not keeping the Sabbath, etc.). I should have added that we know God’s will by what He commands us and instructs us in the Bible, and part of faith is believing what God says rather than our personal opinious about “God’s will.” It goes back to what Mr. Armstrong taught us about the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, that when Adam took of that tree he was taking to himself the prerogative of deciding right from wrong. But God decides that and we have to believe what He says in the Bible. So we need to believe and obey God’s instructions in the letter and the spirit in order to know and do His will.

  7. Pingback: Deleavening Meditations, 2008 « Thoughts En Route

  8. I don’t know if this story relates to the discussion or not. I’ll give it a shot, however.

    Twenty five years ago, I took a job at a ranch. Being a young member of the Church, I studied the Bible for every parable about the master of the house and the servant in the field. I took this as practice advice for the real world, and I followed the scriptures exactly.

    The owner kept giving me more and more responsibility. I was eventually promoted to ranch foreman. Surprised, I told the boss that he could trust me. He replied, “I trust you absolutely.”

    What happened? By following “the letter” I gained a bigger picture of what the letter had only pointed to. I remember thinking, “oh I get it.” There was a lot of in-betweens that wouldn’t have occurred to me otherwise.

    I was given total freedom to do what I pleased. If I saw something, I just took care of it, and told the boss about it later. Sometimes I told him what we needed to do.

    That freedom totally animated me. My sole thought became taking care of the owner’s interest. It all went back to that simple start – when I decided to follow the letter.

    When you trust God and follow the letter, then maybe you discover the bigger picture?

  9. Actually, Tracy, I’m glad that you brought that up! I remember when your husband mentioned that, and you can see in the post I forgot to list (now added — check today’s post or click here) that there was a lengthy discussion in the comments. But someone actually did further research and the “yeast” in that ingredient list is not leavening. It is torula yeast, which is an inactive flavoring and not leavening in anyway. Yay! Spock Hotel is saved!

    Actually, I ought to do a whole post on just that experience. We swore off Taco Be–I mean “Spock Hotel” after hearing about that ingredient until we learned that it was actually not leavening. There are probably some lessons in that, in and of itself.

    Thanks, again, for bringing it up, and have a great Days of Unleavened Bread!

  10. Tracy

    Mr. Smith, That’s good to hear! Thank you 🙂 Hope you and your family have a wonderful Days of Unleavened Bread as well.

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