Church Is Like Spinach
I had a roommate in Bible School named Dave — a tall African American communications student, who has since gone on to become a television producer for the “700 Club”. We were special friends in those days. We continue to be friends, and I still speak with him a couple of times a year, always being sure to also send my greetings to his wife and kids!
I learned some valuable things from Dave – and through Dave – during my college days. For example, it was he who connected me with the university drama troupe through which I received acting lessons. But another insight I received from him has to do, not with Communications or Biblical Studies, but rather with cooking!
Dave had experience as a chef, and he sometimes amazed our mutual friends by inviting them over for a meal, and then delivering something more akin to a fancy restaurant than a college roommate’s kitchen. One time, while he was preparing a certain meal for one such occasion, he taught me a lesson—perhaps without even knowing it. “These marry well” he would say, as he mixed and seasoned and cooked. Translation: A good chef instinctively knows which tastes will combine and ‘marry well’, even though they might seem very different from one another and incompatible to the average person. Spinach had never been a favorite food of mine, to say the least. Yet on this occasion, I saw him mixing spinach with cooked rice and cheese, and then stuffing it into chicken breasts with the skin still on. I was skeptically, but silent. I would “hold my horses”, step back, trust Dave’s wisdom, and then just taste it.
The meal was amazing…including the spinach!
God is like a Master Chef. He instinctively knows what can be combined to create something new and wonderful, even though it might seem counterintuitive to human thinking. However, He’s also a gentleman. He doesn’t override our free will. If we refuse to eat spinach no matter what, He doesn’t force us. But it’s our loss!
In my years as a pastor and intermittent marriage counselor, I have seen situations where husband & wife have decided that they’re incompatible. “We just have different values”, they would say. I’ve always responded by saying that God often brings opposites together in marriage, in order to form complimentary strengths and to do something unique for His Kingdom.
The same is true for Christians as they come together in churches. Here is what the Apostle Paul told the early believers in Jesus who were starting to form divisions in the Corinth:
For even as the body is one and yet has many members, and all the members of the body, though they are many, are one body, so also is Christ. For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free, and we were all made to drink of one Spirit. For the body is not one member, but many. If the foot says, “Because I am not a hand, I am not a part of the body,” it is not for this reason any the less a part of the body. And if the ear says, “Because I am not an eye, I am not a part of the body,” it is not for this reason any the less a part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would the hearing be? If the whole were hearing, where would the sense of smell be? But now God has placed the members, each one of them, in the body, just as He desired. (1 Corinthians 12:12-18)
The bottom line is this: We want our differing and shared convictions to be cooked together to perfection in the fire of the Holy Spirit. Are you thinking of shopping for a different church because the one you attend now has ‘too much spinach’? My advice would be “hold your horses”, step back, trust God’s wisdom, and then just “Taste and see that the Lord is good!” (Psalm 34:8)