The Taste of the Gospel

steak.gifTaste is a sense for which I am especially grateful to God.  I love food.  I am one of the people you will occasionally meet that likes it all.  I love meats of all kinds including liver.  I’ve never met a vegetable I didn’t like, including the wonderful okra, brussel sprout, squash, and asparagus.  I love fruit of all kinds, domestic and tropical.  I enjoy the differences in taste of wheat, rye, pumpernickel, barley, and oat.  I appreciate the fine cheeses.  I salivate over the product of the sea: crabs and scallops and lobsters and swordfish and salmon and clam.  I like it all.

Of course, food can be prepared in a manner that titillates the tongue.  The prime rib that is perfectly cooked to medium rare, moist and tender.  The freshest baguette from a patisserie in Paris, with a warm exterior crust and melt-in-your-mouth doughy inside.  The pasta at al dente which marries perfectly with a freshly prepared marinara.  A red-ripe apple right off the tree with a crispy bite and sweet juicy flavor.

Hungry?

Of course, all food can also be prepared in a manner that leaves one, shall we say, less than enthused?  Perhaps this is nowhere experienced as intensely as in baked items.  Baking requires an exact measurement of ingredients and cooking method.  A wrong combination of ingredients can result in disaster.  Ever accidentally switch the sugar and salt?  Ever get a clump of baking soda in a bite of bread?  Ever watch your beautifully rising cake suddenly collapse because of bad yeast or wrong temperature?  Who hasn’t experienced a Thanksgiving turkey with meat dried and undesirable?

Hopefully, disastrous cooking never makes its way to the table.  But more often, an even more sinister item does: bland food.  There is nothing worse to me than bland food.  Proper seasoning is the difference between an “okay” cook and a master chef.  Seasoning is something I have learned over time and am still learning.  It’s the difference between a “thanks for the meal, dad” response from my elementary son and “that’s the best ________ I’ve ever had!”

As I type this, I am sitting at my desk looking down at my lunch.  I have a Subway sandwich in front of me.  I am already salivating.  Why?  Because, in my opinion, Subway makes one of the best sandwiches available to “fast-food” consumers.  The Parmesan-oregano bread is fresh and smells wonderfully seasoned.  The ingredients are freshly sliced.  The combination of deli-meats and Swiss cheese will result in a myriad of delightful tastes.  The added salt, pepper, and oregano will enhance the Italian smell and flavor.

In Paul’s letter to the church at Colosse, he makes this statement:

Let your speech be alway with grace, seasoned with salt, that ye may know how ye ought to answer every man. (Colossians 4:6)

Is it possible that my speech can be compared to food, properly seasoned?  Yes, indeed.  John Piper says the following about this passage:

“I take this to mean that what we say about Christ and about the Christian life should be made as appetizing as possible. When food is not salted its taste is bland. People don’t want to eat it. It’s unappetizing. Our speech is not supposed to be like that.

This is one of the most refreshing things I have ever heard anyone say about personal evangelism. Think about it for a moment. How can you develop the ability to speak about Christ so that there is an appetizing flavor to it. How do you learn to talk about Christ in a way that makes people’s mouth water?” (http://www.soundofgrace.com/piper88/pipe001d.htm)

He goes to explain that the way we cultivate an appetizing flavor for the Gospel in our speech is by personally reviewing why the Gospel tastes good to me.

I love the blogosphere.  It’s enormously satisfying to me to type out my thoughts on any myriad of ideas and have interaction from other Christian brothers and sisters that encourages and sharpens me.  It is a wonderfully new tool that we have in our arsenal of edification.

Recently I have become quite disheartened with what I have read at several blogs, including my favorite one, SharperIron.  Several men with, I believe, good intentions have frequently hijacked the blog with endless discussions on meaningless or unimportant topics that are debated with a callousness and seeming lack of regard, not only for other Christian brothers and sisters, but more importantly, for the watching world.  The result of this disturbing trend has been a deteriorating tone and more regular and vicious verbal sparring.  Men that normally speak with grace and clarity have even been drawn into the angst of the moment.

Now, to be clear, I think that many discussions on blogs like SI are enormously helpful.  I have participated in many discussions of a controversial nature.  The discussions are usually very helpful and gracious in tone.  I say to my shame that I, at times, have also engaged in language that was mocking or arrogant in nature.  I have, to my knowledge, asked for others’ forgiveness for those moments of sinful speech.

On the other hand, I have been wondering to myself if there are certain discussions which should be kept more private in their conversational venue.  Why?  Because of those with watching eyes.  Are there topics which require knock-down, drag-out fights?  Yes.  But should these times of intense debate be projected for all the world to see?  Some would say yes.  I would say, I think, no.

If the way that we speak needs to be “seasoned” and “with grace” before the unbelieving world, then shouldn’t our public and online discussions be centered around that which “tastes good” about the Christian life?  If unbelievers, according to the New Testament, are not capable of understanding certain aspects of Christianity because they are “spiritually discerned,” then why do we insist on putting these things constantly in their view?

Why not speak of the glorious appearing and return of Jesus Christ?  Why not praise the mercy of God applied to our spiritually-dead souls?  Why not fill pages of discussion with the marvel of the cross of Jesus Christ?  Are these things not “tasty” to us anymore?

I’m not saying the other conversations are not worth having.  They are.  I am calling my online Christian brothers and sisters, however, to consider a shift in the topic of discussion before a watching world.  And they ARE watching.

God of Grace, amazing wonder, Irresistible and free.  O the miracle of mercy, Jesus reaches down to me; God of Grace, I stand and wonder as my God restores my soul.  His own blood has paid my ransom, awesome cost to make me whole.

God of Grace, who loved and knew me long before the world began, sent my Savior down from heaven; perfect God and perfect man; God of Grace, I trust in Jesus, I’m accepted as His own.  Every day new grace sustains me as I lean on Him alone.

God of Grace, I stand astounded, cleansed, forgiven and secure.  All my fears are now confounded and my hope is ever sure; God of Grace, now crowned in glory where one day, I’ll see Your face.  And forever I’ll adore You, in Your everlasting grace.

Word and music by Keith Getty and Jonathan Rea.  Sample can be heard here.

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6 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by T Howard on August 17, 2006 at 2:34 pm

    Hi I am wondering to whom the referent is to “the men” you have written about on SI. 

    Reply

  2. Brian,

    Thanks for the great article. The gospel is our only hope. Knowing, experiencing, and glorifying God can only come through the gospel of Christ.

    And yet, the gospel mostly seems to be an afterthought in the blogosphere. People love to argue and sarcastically tear down each other over positions on the 2-4 beat, dress standards, social drinking, the KJV, and movie theaters. But when somebody writes about the glory of Christ, it fails to spark interest and discussion.

    Your article was a good reminder to keep that which is fundamental to everything as fundamental to everything.

    Reply

  3. T Howard,

    I edited your post. I’d rather not name names. But you’re right, it is a shame. I hope it changes. I’ll do my part to help.

    Reply

  4. Posted by Bruce Countryman on August 17, 2006 at 5:25 pm

    Brian, I would have read the entire blog in one sitting but felt the sudden urge to go make a sandwich…..Just kidding!

    Great food for thought.

    Reply

  5. Posted by T Howard on August 17, 2006 at 7:22 pm

    The edit was fine with me. No need to air dirty laundry. Thanks for the concern and for making it public. Hopefully the administrators at SI read your blog.

    Reply

  6. Thanks for making me hungry for my OWN Subway sandwich Tony just brought me…AND for the words about blog conversations. 🙂 I know I’m echoing others, but there is so much strife in the world, it is a shame when we create it between brothers and sisters in Christ. I find that the blogs I ready daily (or more often!) are those that are uplifting, encouraging, and spiritually challenging in a positive way. And I have striven to keep my own blog that way. I appreciate reading a good logical debate as much as the next person, especially if I can learn from it, but it does go too far at times. Thanks again, Brian! 😀

    Reply

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