Didache - Chapter 6
6 See That No One Leads You Astray
6:1 See that no one leads you astray from the way of this teaching, since all other teachings train you without God.
6:2 For if you are able to bear the entire yoke of the Lord, you will be perfect; but if you are not able, then at least do what you can.
6:3 Concerning food, do what you are able to do and be on guard against meat offered to idols, for that is to worship dead gods.
Recently I was in the car with a group of people on our way to lunch. One of the guys is an Orthodox Christian. We were discussing what he was planning on eating since the Orthodox Church was still observing the Lenten season. My friend and I were discussing the differences between the two observances and how the Orthodox continue to mark Easter based off of the Jewish holy day of Passover. While we were talking about it, I said something like, “While I understand why the day was changed, I feel the Orthodox have the proper way. Personally, the observance of Easter should never have changed.” To which another friend, who’s Roman Catholic, piped up, “What are you two talking about?” I explained that we were discussing the Orthodox observance of Easter coincided with the Jewish Passover and how the Western Church shouldn’t have changed the date. “Then why aren’t you Orthodox?” my friend responded harshly.
That black and white view is how a lot of people would interpret the first verse of this chapter. If something doesn’t match up with our particular facet of the Christian business religion then it’s “wrong.” The view of “our” church or denomination is the only one that’s “right.”
But that isn’t what the Teaching is saying to the student. Furthermore, this isn’t even about learning things from other wisdom traditions. The Teaching is talking about learning things that don’t line up with what they’ve been talking about. If someone is trying to tell you something about living for the Christ and it’s not about loving G-d, loving neighbor, loving enemy, and caring for others or creation, then steer clear. And there are plenty of other wisdom traditions that teach very similar things.
Also note the next verse, “do what you can.” I like the simplicity of this. No perfectionism here. Just simply, “do what you can...do what you are able to do…” Note that this is about how ones lives every day. Even the mundane, in the “rut” of eating a meal. The Teaching seems to understand that people can get bogged down by following the rules, becoming very legalistic and this simple instruction destroys that instantly.
I like the way that Teaching even guides the food we eat. In the context of Gentiles and Jews become “one group” (Ephesians 2.14-16), dealing with cultural mores like what one eats is important. So important, in fact, that we have at least two accounts of instruction in the New Testament (Acts 15, Romans 14; etc.) concerning the coming together of both groups and how to deal with eating. But the Didache’s take on it is rather simple, “Do what you’re able to do.” Don’t knowingly eat food that others would find offensive, but don’t beat yourself up over it if you do. In other words, be mindful.
In the Love of the Three in One,
Br. Jack+, LC