Wednesday, February 22, 2006

salvation in a (pine)nutshell

Take fresh basil, still warm from the garden, rinsed and patted dry. Add pine nuts, a clove of garlic, a handful of grated parmesan, extra-virgin olive oil, (known to foodies as EVOO) a dash of salt…

And that’s all.

These few ingredients come together under my pestle, and each is essential to that summer nectar we call pesto. Then if some angel produces a ripe tomato and a bowl of moist rice, well then, heaven meets earth in my bowl. Here is a lunch divine: simple, shorn of frippery, and a delight to the senses. Any frills or do-dads would only distract from its beauty.

It is a wise discipline to distill our delights to their very essence. Sharing with an inquisitive young friend late into the night about the delights of my Christian faith is an exercise in distilling. Which elements of the gospel are absolutely essential? Can one well-crafted sentence encapsulate the life-changing power of the salvation message? What sets this adventure called Christianity apart from the world’s cafeteria of religion and philosophy, anyway? To experience the goodness of the gospel afresh, I need to pose these questions to myself now and then!

The privilege of uncovering someone’s heart, hearing their desires and finding shades of need that are burning deeply into their soul is not to be taken lightly. So when a guest that hardly knows me dares to entrust these treasures to me….it is time to listen carefully. Any request for a rulebook or list of demands in order to join this “Christian Club” is vehemently denied. Jesus didn’t come to bring rules, but life, and that abundantly. As my wise pastor proclaimed from the pulpit this morning, “Life with God is not about keeping rules so you can keep the rules.” Deliver us from a dead religion that only exchanges one hard yoke for yet another!

No tricks, convincing arguments, or clever illustrations will win an allegiance to God for life. But love, boiled down to an ounce of compassion, a listening ear, and a word of hope from heaven can conquer a wounded heart forever.

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

-Matthew 11:28-30


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