Turkey bacon is a lie of the devil.
Okay, maybe I’m exaggerating a bit, but for a big guy who loves to eat, something about it just seems deceptive. It looks like real bacon, it even smells like real bacon. However, the taste gives it away for what it truly is…strips of turkey masquerading as glorious bacon!
Oh, I know there are those of you who would argue that it tastes just as good. You would no doubt tell me how much longer I’d live if I gave up “true bacon” for the deceptive turkey impostor. I do know a great guy in my church who has given up all meat and dairy. He’s lost so much weight and looks so healthy. But I tell him that while I may die sooner, he will have to carry my coffin for the funeral.
Ha! That’ll kill him for sure!
Of all our senses, taste is the most intimate. You can sniff around food, you can look at it and even touch it. But until you TASTE it, you can’t know if it’s the real thing or just a deceptive wannabe. Only when you commit and make that bacon a part of you can you tell what it really is.
And it is so very good!
I have another good friend who’s not a Christian. Sometimes, when he knows I’m listening, he’ll quote a couple of Bible verses in jest. He’ll flash a quick smile at me, and I smile back with satisfaction that he does know some of God’s Word.
We both know why he does it. He’s letting me know he’s not ignorant of what I believe. He’s seen it, but doesn’t want any of it. He’s stating in his own friendly, good-natured way, “I’ve tried a little of your God, and he’s not for me. Thanks, but no thanks.”
If I were going to call his bluff, I would point him to Psalm 34. In that chapter, David exclaims, “Oh taste and see that the Lord is good!” It’s not just by accident David didn’t say, “Oh LOOK and see” or “Oh LISTEN and see”, because much of what we see and hear masquerading as God today is little more than “turkey bacon”…or maybe even bologna.
Tasting is a big risk, because once you’ve put food in your mouth, you can get really sick if it’s gone bad. Have you ever pulled out a carton of milk from the fridge, poured a glass and taken a gulp, only to spit it out because it had turned sour? Nothing more disgusting—I can imagine your face cringing even now as I describe it! So to taste something, you’ve got to be “all in”—without that risk, you can’t expect to experience just how good it tastes.
If my friend truly tasted of the things of God…if he committed and risked it all by letting God into his life, instead of just sniffing around God’s table…he would see how good God really is!
But I know lots of people who are unwilling to take that risk. They even pop by my church sometimes, hoping for “just a whiff” of God. They sniff around the place oh so cautiously, they watch people worship, they listen to the message—anything but committing themselves “whole hog” (pardon the pun). It makes me sad when some walk away unchanged, but you can’t just sniff around the things of God and expect anything to happen. It’s all or nothing.
It’s like going to a 3D movie, where everyone gets to wear those nerdy-looking glasses. I love those things—I like to turn around and see how goofy the whole place looks with them on! But what if I tried to watch the movie without wearing the glasses? I’d go up to the theater manager and complain, saying “What a lousy movie—everything was all blurry!” When he asks if I put my glasses on, I’d say, “Of course not—can you imagine how goofy I’d look in those things?!”
Likewise, I’m sorry if you’re afraid risking everything on believing in God might make you look stupid if it turns out he’s not real. But you’ll never know if you keep playing it safe, keeping him at an arms-length, coming to church in your HAZMAT suit like Walter White (inside reference—you know who you are).
But my atheist and agnostic friends would argue, “How can you say God is good when there is so much wrong in the world?” That’s easy.
I never said, “Life is good.” Life is hard, and often filled with injustice, selfishness and evil. Bad people often prosper, while good people struggle. And most of us whither away at the end of our years, unable to pass on much of the wisdom life has taught us.
No, life is not always good. But God is!
In spite of all the evil around us, knowing God and living life with him does, in fact, make it all worthwhile. I’m still amazed at how in the midst of hardship and pain, Christians can choose to find joy in their sorrows and peace in their prisons. They experienced first-hand the goodness of God and the privilege of knowing him, and that makes all the pain worthwhile.
God never promised us a “good life.” Jesus said bluntly, “In the world, you will have trouble.” But thank God, he also said that “he has overcome the world.” So the “goodness” is not this life, it is in fact “knowing him.”
My brother-in-law Claude is African-American, and he knows that in my heart that part of me wishes I were, too! I love Black Gospel music and Black preachers—the freedom and excitement is invigorating to me—like nothing else.
One day Claude decided to make me an “honorary Black Man,” and put me through an initiation that’s the best thing I’ve ever tasted!
As we drove together in the car, he kept asking me if I “was sure I could handle it,” but I assured him I could (though I really had no idea what I was in for). He took me to a place on the east side of town. When we pulled up, I could see it was nothing more than a hole in the wall. Questions regarding the sanitary conditions of the establishment did go through my mind, but I quickly dismissed them…mainly because I knew if Claude had survived the food, I probably would too.
When I opened the front door, a truck-load of smells overwhelmed me—all of them wonderful. We got our trays and slid them along like at the school cafeteria, as we looked into what was being served up behind the grease-smeared glass. There were some things that I did not recognize, and I’ll admit I passed on anything with the words “jowls” or “feet” in the title.
However, I did recognize fried chicken, and then I saw some green beans that had completely surrendered their original flavoring to the hunk of ham nestled in their midst (much like a diamond in a gold setting…yes, I wax poetic when describing food!). And the ribs…I’m afraid if I described them accurately, my article would be banned by the censors.
Then there was my favorite—banana pudding! This was happily not newly-made pudding, but instead the kind that had been around a day or so—you know, so that the vanilla wafers had started disintegrating into the pudding and become a little mushy. Much like fine wine, banana pudding must be allowed to age before consuming …listen and learn, young people.
By the end of the meal, we were covered in food. There was no way to eat it daintily—the BBQ sauce, the chicken grease, the pudding was either on our faces or our clothes…or both. When I arrived home, my wife looked at me, smelled me, and then said, “Where in the world have you two been?” We literally reeked of that soul food restaurant! For a man who loves black culture, I felt I’d just had the equivalent of my Black Bar Mitzvah.
That is what tasting of God—the real God—is like.
No cute little WetWipe will remove the smell of him off your clothes, and no discouragement from this world can take his smile off your face. Because when you truly “taste and see that the Lord is good,” you can’t hide it!
That is what this world needs to see from Christians! Not lectures from us or judging looks, but to be absolutely reeking with his goodness—no, his greatness! Because when you’ve really tasted of him, you won’t be able to hide it. He will betray you to everyone as his true follower, and he as the Lover of your soul…
I think I’m about to start preaching, so you’d better clean off your greasy cafeteria tray and get ready for some good stuff – “OH TASTE AND SEE THAT THE LORD IS GOOD!”
Can I get an amen, somebody?
Photo credit: Ron Hamilton via Flickr