Christianity has long been associated with meals. Jesus hosted a symbolic meal on the eve of his death. Jews and Christians have long portrayed eternity as an everlasting banquet. And Christianity’s earliest distinctive was its insistence that all people could sit and share food together. But in our day, I am afraid that too many people have experienced a freeze-dried, hermetically sealed, reheated version of Christianity. We have tasted the generic and found this faith wanting. We have forgotten what gourmet Christianity tastes like.
I will never forget my first $70 steak. I am embarrassed to have eaten it. I was part of a team recruiting new members for a specific consortium. We had our eyes set on enlisting group from Indiana. Our team leader found the best steakhouse in Atlanta, and we were ready with our pitch. Then I opened the menu and paralysis hit. I find eating steak a moral issue, in general. But after ordering the cheapest cut and taking my first slice, buttery and charcoaled to perfection, I tasted pure delight. Now I always remember this steak when I chew through the $5.59 cut that we sometimes serve at home. There is no comparison.
Christianity is not pompous. But it is exquisite. Here is how I would describe the difference:
- Has no place for the life of the mind
- emphasizes striving
- does not have an awe for the created world
- takes its only cues from a localized contemporary culture
- is bound to the agendas of a professionalized clergy member
- produces escapist, heaven-bound wishful thinking
- sees faith as scientific certainty
- experiences hope as wishful thinking
- demands God’s endorsement and calls it worship
- is obsessed (to the exclusion of a richer understanding of salvation) with Jesus dying for sins
- tends to polarize into one particular political camp
- requires your brain
- emphasizes Sabbath
- reveres the created order
- takes its cues from a globalized, 2000 year old ancient tradition
- empowers small groups for mission
- produces engaged thinking about seeing God’s goodness in the land of the living
- sees faith as a deep-seeded confidence that Jesus is Lord
- experiences hope as a steadfast endurance
- embraces suffering and the purification of our love from pride, lusts, greed, etc.
- is consumed with clinging to the cross
- encourages nuanced political thinking
What do you think? How does exquisite Christianity differ from a freeze-dried generic version?