Yesterday we planted 30 tomato plants in the garden – another important rite of spring and and an increasingly important part of the rhythm of my life. You have no idea how much better tomatoes taste straight out of the garden. In fact I am amazed at how much better all vegetables taste when freshly picked. No wonder kids (and a lot of adults) don’t like vegetables – they’ve never really tasted anything the way God intended it to be.
Makes me wonder if part of the reason many of us struggle with what it means to be a Christian is because we get our theology and our Christian discipleship second hand – and it never really tastes the way God intends it to. Like most of our vegetables it is often old, stale and past its prime or else it has been pumped up with additives to keep it fresh and tasty.
What do I mean – well most of us learn theology by sitting down in chairs and having people yak at us. It might get some information into our heads but if definitely does not get God’s principles into our hearts – and to be honest I think it is the most boring and uninteresting way to learn anything. The only way that God’s principles will get into our hearts is by us putting them into practice. As I have said before I learned my theology in the refugee camps in Thailand. And I continue to learn it through interacting with people from other cultures and perspectives. I read somewhere once that the early Christians felt privileged to live in a nonChristian society because they believed it was through their interactions with people outside the faith that they learned more about God – now we think we learn best from people who think exactly the same way we do – and I suspect that explains why our theological perspectives are often regarded as old, stale and full of superfluous additives – a little like the produce we buy in the supermarket.