My dad taught me many things:
- how to change the oil on my car (which I don't do because I don't like being covered in stuff that looks like it came straight out of an X-Files rerun)
- how to comparison shop for electronics (a skill I still use)
- some basic dating skills (best bit of advice: "Ask for the second date at the end of the first date... while you're still both having a good time." It worked with Shari - and we'll be married 17 years this June!)
- how to clean things thoroughly (a skill I don't use as much as I should)
- how to think like a CEO (something he did very well and I hope I've figured out how to apply that stuff wisely to church life)
- the incredible grace of giving generously
And the list goes on...
But one of my favorite things he taught me is how to mix chunky peanut butter & light Karo syrup to make a gooey substance that is best on scooped & eaten with graham crackers. Of course, there's some "art" involved in getting the balance of peanut butter & syrup right - too much syrup & the sticky goodness drips all over the place; too much peanut butter & you can't scrape it off the plate with a knife, let alone a graham cracker. We have to maintain that same delicate balance in our lives as people who are followers of Jesus Christ. We need to safeguard ourselves from sin & grow deeper in our individual relationship with God (metaphorically, we'll call that peanut butter). At the same time, we need to "go everywhere" (Acts 1:8) as witnesses of what Jesus has done in our lives (we'll call that Karo). Too much Karo and we end causing a mess - sharing a faith without substance or depth that is more about putting convert notches on our spiritual gun belt than about seeing people become fully devoted followers of Christ. On the other hand, too much peanut butter & we find our stuck to our spiritual plates - so addicted to church life & the Christian bubble that we have no influence on a lost world who desperately needs Jesus. We become whiny Christians whose demand for "deeper teaching" is a mask for our fear of the way that non-believers might challenge us. Ah, but when the mix is right... when we long to know Jesus more as well as see people come to know Him, we are a little slice of heaven... on a graham cracker. I'm not asking you to take them out of the world, but to keep them safe from the evil one. They do not belong to this world any more than I do. Make them holy by your truth; teach them your word, which is truth. Just as you sent me into the world, I am sending them into the world. John 17:15-18 (New Living Translation) You've probably figured it out by now, but a simple note: I was really hungry when I wrote this. This article originally appeared in the 3/26/07 issue of the Grapevine, the newsletter of NewLife Community Church.