A Meat-Eater in a Vegetarian Restaurant
By Gene Markland
While on vacation, I had the occasion to be in Atlanta, Georgia with my family seeing the sights. My vegetarian daughter suggested we dine at a famous vegetarian restaurant, Cafe Sunflower.
I thought about all the times I had brought her to steakhouse after steakhouse where she was confined to a salad and macaroni and cheese. So I figured turnabout was fair play and said yes.
When we arrived, I noticed how nice and normal everything looked, courteous service, great facility, and a packed house, considering it was almost closing time. As the hostess led us to our table, I felt a little self-conscious because the restaurant was filled with skinny people. Maybe it was my imagination, but as I walked passed them they looked at me. I have never felt so fat in my life. I knew what they were thinking.
"What's he doing here?"
"Boy is he lost!"
"You've got to be kidding!"
Yeah, they had me pegged. I am a meat-eater in a vegetarian restaurant. I held my head high, and said to myself, "this is for my Daughter." If she can suffer with me at the Buffet with we thinly-challenged people, then I can suffer at the salad place.
Besides, in the Bible, the Apostle Paul instructs us not to criticize each other's convictions. "One man believes that he may eat anything, another man, without this strong conviction, is a vegetarian. The meat-eater should not despise the vegetarian, nor should the vegetarian condemn the meat-eater—they should reflect that God has accepted them both" (Romans 14:1-4, Phillips).
Once I accepted the situation and carefully considered the culinary choices presented to me, I chose and enjoyed a delightful meal. In the Christian Church family, we may sometimes have different tastes and convictions; but that should not divide us. If we will respect and prefer one another, then it is easy to find common ground. We share more common ground with each other than the minutia of convictions that divide us.
A wise missionary once told me that on the mission field, when you are in jail with a Catholic, a Baptist, a Pentecostal, and an Orthodox Christian, you find that you are truly just Brothers in Christ. The Apostle Paul admonished us, "Always be full of joy in the Lord. I say it again—rejoice! Let everyone see that you are considerate in all you do. Remember, the Lord is coming soon" (Philippians 4:4-5)!
Listen, the world of non-believers many times justify themselves by Christians divided and not getting along with each other, and therefore continue in their non-belief. As we are considerate with each other, the world will look at us differently and be more interested in our faith, whatever our denomination or group. Remember, Jesus asked that we love one another and thereby show the world that we are His Disciples.
But back to the restaurant, When I left, and passed the skinny people, I felt a little skinnier myself and appreciated the veggies that we had in common.
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Gene Markland is an Author, Speaker and Entrepreneur. He is the Author of Spirit Fellowship, Experiencing Life in the Presence of God. He resides in Virginia Beach, Virginia with his wife Martha and daughter Laura. Gene blogs at http://www.spiritfellowship.blogspot.com/
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