“But I don’t like that stuff, Ma,” I growled, knowing that this was another war of wills that I was not likely to win, but, after all, it was self-defense. My grandma–normally the sweetest, most considerate soul you’d ever want to meet–had an evil alter ego. A malicious, dark side would take control of her from time to time and turn her kitchen into a culinary weapons lab where she’d experiment with concoctions designed to torture innocent, harmless kids.
The stuff she was spooning onto my plate smelled like the vegetable-equivalent of boiled liver and made starvation look downright appealing. “Evil-side” Grandma launched a familiar counterattack in response to my opening salvo. Mimicking “Nice-Grandma’s” most encouraging tone, she said, “Don’t be silly, it’s just that your mouth just doesn’t know how good it is yet. Now stop fussin’ . . . Eggplant is good for you. You’ll get used to it, and it will help you grow up to be strong and smart.” Score one for the enticing prospect of being weak and stupid.
A Different Motivation ~
Looking back with eyes adjusted by time and experience gives the incident a vastly different “flavor.” In an age where personal tastes and preferences so often trump more significant questions, Grandma’s motivations are worth considering. She was much more concerned with developing adult tastes that would strengthen me later than catering to what I might “like” at the moment.
Jesus invites us into a relationship that allows us to refer to the God of the universe as our “Father.” I wonder sometimes what that picture really looks like in our minds. I wonder if we’re not prone to see our relationship as one where the “child” God is parenting is already past his or her developmental years, so that it’s one adult consulting with another adult about the grownup issues of life. What if God isn’t an “older adult” consulting with us grownups? Instead, what if He’s dealing with a bunch of self-centered kids whose major concern is whether or not the menu of choices He’s offering suits their taste? What if, like Grandma, God is much more concerned with developing our tastes than catering to them? What if He’s much more focused on what’s “good for us” than what ?seems? good to us?
A brief glance at the general culture is all it takes to realize that we have developed a “taste” for garbage. Socially toxic behaviors and attitudes are highlighted and promoted in every form of “entertainment” and get reinforced in social media and academic classrooms at every level. Practitioners of the most morally repellent and personally destructive lifestyles imaginable are exalted as icons. We have developed a craving for what belongs in the trash and turned a moral landfill into our favorite all-you-can-eat buffet.
A Father’s Observation ~
God offers this observation from His perspective as our heavenly “Parent”:
For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the first principles of the oracles of God; and you have come to need milk and not solid food. For everyone who partakes only of milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, for he is a babe. But solid food belongs to those who are of full age, that is, those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil. (Hebrews 5:12-14 NKJV)
Clearly, some of us aren’t as far along in our development as we might like to think, but God is saying more than that here. He’s pointing out that those who are “of full age,” i.e., those who have matured, have had their “senses,” their “tastes,” if you will, developed in a way that enables a protective discernment, and there’s a simple but vital key to that process.
Mature “tastes” are developed through systematic exposure and personal application of God’s truth about life. It begins with an introductory “bite” here and there. Eventually, it becomes a regular side dish, then a familiar entrée, and finally, an indispensable dietary staple. It’s not surprising that the devil applies that same process in training us to eat garbage. When I first tasted an alcoholic beverage, I nearly threw up. My “friend” said, “Just keep drinking it, and you’ll learn to like it. It’s an acquired taste.”
Never before has there been a more concentrated effort in mainstream American Christianity to accommodate everyone’s “tastes” in church. A veritable smorgasbord of choices is offered in everything from worship styles, to sermon delivery, to “platform” arrangement, to music genre, to volume, to lighting, to the brand of coffee offered, to the bulletin format. Whatever else happens we want church to be “liked.” But looking at the moral climate across the land, one cannot help but ask whether this tasty spiritual menu is developing palates that are able to “discern good and evil.” If so, where’s their influence?
“Acquired Tastes” — A Warrior’s Necessity ~
Truth is, some things Jesus taught don’t look all that appealing at first, but pleasing our erratic, divergent personal taste buds isn’t what He came to do. Our mission, like His, requires an overcoming strength that demands substantial nourishment, and a taste for some of it doesn’t come naturally. God’s menu isn’t designed to cater to childish whims. It’s nutritional impact is meant to sustain warriors, and some “acquired tastes” need to be developed — like the taste for …
- The blessing of obedience that overrides the temptation to rebel.
- The power of sacrificial love that subdues self-indulgence.
- The joy of giving that subjugates the craving to acquire.
- The strength of hope that forbids yielding to anxiety and fear.
One more thing . . . Remember that night in the Garden of Gethsemane? Jesus was offered a “cup” to drink, and the “taste” of its contents caused Him to recoil and beg the Father to take it away. But His taste for obedience overcame what His flesh didn’t like. Now think about this:
But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels, for the suffering of death crowned with glory and honor, that He, by the grace of God, might taste death for everyone. (Hebrews 2:9 NKJV)
In a world obsessed with catering to our “likes” while training us to live on garbage, Jesus calls us to a different diet. The strength of its nourishment will sustain us forever, but maybe it helps to remember that it’s an acquired taste.
Ron’s new book, “Right Side Up Thinking in an Upside Down World ~ Looking at the World through the Lens of Biblical Truth” has been released!
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© 2018 Gallagher’s Pen, Ronald L. Gallagher, Ed.S. All rights reserved.
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