I like to cook. I have the chance to prepare meals for myself and for Lee and I often. When we go out to eat I am tasting, experimenting and observing. How is the food prepared? Is it good? Does the meal highlight an ingredient or mask it? One of my pet peeves is when food is so over-seasoned you cannot tell one part of the meal from the other. The other day I had green beans that were so filled with salt, they were no longer 'green beans.' They were just green things that tasted like salt. It did not make for a good meal!
I think sometimes we do life like those green beans. We try to taste and look like everything else on the plate. We lose our distinction, our mindset, our desire to become all God is making us. We are happy tasting like everything else in the 'stew' of the world rather than tasting distinct, wild, free and different. How can we do better?
We can become those people who believe in change. Lent begins with Ash Wednesday. This year, as I placed the ashes on each forehead, drawing a cross, I said, "You are chosen by God ... repent and believe the Gospel." Three things in that little statement.
First, you are chosen. The word in the Old Testament is 'distinct or peculiar (Deut. 14:2).' If you are chosen by God you are chosen to be distinct ... to taste like yourself. I want to tell people, "It's ok ... go ahead ... be and become what God is making you because that 'person' will be good." You are here to add a distinct flavor to this world. God has chosen you because the world will be better if your flavor is added. He could have just soaked you in salt and made you taste like everyone else, but that isn't how God cooks. You will add to the flavor and being chosen will make the 'team' better!
Second, 'repent!' The word generally means to go in a different direction. The rich young ruler (Mark 10) was told to change direction and go somewhere uncomfortable, dangerous, difficult and good. God is bold with the seasoning when He cooks! To change you must move from a 'stasis' mindset to a 'growth' mindset. I think when Jesus says repent or John the Baptist says "Repent, for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand! (Matthew 3:2)" it is a call to change, growth and betterment. All those people coming down to the river to be baptized by John the Baptist were to go back changed, different and better. I hope when you heard those words on Ash Wednesday you went away chosen ... repenting. If you missed the service, it is not too late to say, "Lord ... I want to be chosen ... I want you to change me!"
There is a third thing ... "Believe the Gospel." Jesus said, "Whoever does God's will is my sister and brother and mother (Matthew 12:50)!" He said this while His actual mother and brothers stood outside waiting to talk to Him. Jesus connects 'belief' with 'action' here. We sing songs about belief ('where He leads me I will follow', 'here I am to bow down ... here I am to say you are my God', etc.). As Jesus is 'seasoning' the world with strange and peculiar people like you and me, He is hoping that these people are believing the Gospel in their actions. That is convicting to me because I so often fail to express my belief and His Lordship in my life. But that is the call!
You are chosen (you are part of the team in the biggest game ever), you should be in a constant state of repentance (change toward God is always a good thing) and you are an expression of Gospel truth in the world (that flavor will be stark, wild, distinct and refreshing). I am glad you are in the 'stew' of life with me! God bless! Randy