We had friends over the other night, one of whom is a vegan. I’d never prepared a vegan meal before, so I was quite nervous; I always worry guests will leave our house hungry. Mark and I went grocery shopping and scrutinized labels: I was surprised at how many items had milk or eggs hidden in them. As we hunted, I grew more and more impressed by our friend’s discipline: In a food culture where vegans are a minority, it takes a huge commitment to find items that meet the criteria. I wasn’t sure I could summon up the same level of discipline.

That led me to wonder which is harder: a physical discipline or a spiritual discipline. I’m working on my physical diet, but am I paying equal attention to my spiritual diet? Our friend has chosen this path for moral and ethical reasons. Surely, the children of God have abundant moral and ethical reasons to keep our spiritual diet clean and healthy. But do we? Do we filter out hatred, intolerance, and anger as we might put aside carbs, sugar, or dairy? Do we seek out purity and strength the way we’d seek out organic and locally grown? Do we think about where the sound bites and opinions we listen to daily come from, about who plants them and nurtures them? Do we consider the toll taken by absorbing them?

Scripture reminds us that our bodies are temples. That includes our hearts and minds. To fill ourselves with toxic half-truths, to allow resentments and prejudices to take root, to lap up hatred and anger is to defile ourselves, to demean and even destroy who God asks us to be.

We are people of the Covenant of love and mercy. Let us then discipline ourselves accordingly. Let us work to keep our minds and hearts pure and fixed on the Lord. Let us fill ourselves with truth and tolerance, so we may produce compassion, love, and grace. Let us live in the Light, so it will shine through us and inspire others.

“Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies.”

1 Corinthians 6:19-20