Taste and see that the Lord is good.
Oh, the joys of those who take refuge in him! -Psalm 34:8
When they saw the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus.
My wife and I are just heading home after being in California to graduate from my master’s degree program and celebrate by exploring the beauty of the mountains and coastline of California for a few days. I’m sure that there will be many reflections emerging from these experiences in the coming days, but today I want to share about the food.
Because we were always on the go, we did a lot of eating out at restaurants over the past few days. It was fun to be foodies for a week. We went to some small dives and we ate at some fancy restaurants. Each time, we would ask the server about the dishes. At almost every restaurant we tried, each server would raise their eyebrows and tell us about this one great dish that we had to get. "The duck is the chef’s favorite", one would say. Another said, “oh, the caper dressing on the chopped salad is amazing. I know it might sound strange, but you have to experience the whole thing together. The flavor profile is what we’re focusing on.” Another waitress told us that we could not go wrong with the garlic fries.
Each time we could quickly figure out two things. We could tell if the server was connected to the chef, and we could tell if the server had tasted the food. When that was the case, the servers were able to describe so beautifully what the chef was excited about, as if it were the chef herself talking about the food. And when they had tried it, they spoke to us not about information, but about experience. It always made us want to be just a little more adventurous!
That is, except one place. We were in the middle of nowhere and didn’t have a lot of choices. When we asked about the special chicken dish on the menu, the server responded, “Well, we didn’t get the chicken breast in the latest supply shipment, so it’s thighs and wings instead. But chicken is chicken, right?” There was little interest in what he was sharing, and clearly this gentlemen hadn’t tasted what he was describing. And guess what? The food was not great. But we could feel that coming in advance!
As disciples of Jesus, a core part of our life is about bearing witness to the goodness and beauty of God. We are not selling anything, but we are representing Jesus and revealing God’s love to the world. We do this in little ways and big ways. We love selflessly, we pray for others, and we look for places where we can serve and care for the overlooked and forgotten.
But as we do that, and as we share about what motivates our lifestyle, it won’t take long for others to notice if we are simply quoting the right information, or if we know God’s heart for the world and God’s way of redeeming it. Have we spent time with the Great Chef, listening to his voice? Have we tasted the love and grace of God in a real way, so that we speak with depth from our own experience, or are we quoting ideas that we aren’t experiencing?
When I invite people to share with me about their faith, so many default to simply giving a biography of church experiences or thoughts about God. That’s fine, but that’s not what I'm asking for. I want to hear about the complicated and wonderful journey of connecting with God, but we are not used to sharing from such a place of personal experience. How can we grow in this?
Here's an encourage for you this week. Spend some time sitting in the presence of Jesus. Get away for a few moments. Breathe deeply. Delight in being loved. Invite the presence of God to transform you.
And then, don’t be afraid to talk about what you’re experiencing with others. Sometimes we need to hear good news from each other, over and over again, to be inspired to keep tasting and seeing that God is good.
We really don’t have to be impressive, insightful or super-spiritual. We simply have to be with Jesus enough that he starts to rub off on us, and people will notice it in the best way possible.
Jesus, satisfy me with your love, and lead me to share it with others.