Joe and I have just been out to lunch with a friend of ours and her two children. We went to a place that has an indoor play area, with climbing nets and pits full of coloured plastic balls and spaces to crawl through. I think it is a shame that these things are only for kids. I think that adults would love to play in something like that too.
Ordering lunch was a mammoth task since we had a selection of menus – the ordinary one, a light lunches one and the kid’s menu. We were ordering something from each one! In Prague we didn’t have the luxury of three menus, each with a huge variety of tempting options. The food faire tended to be very heavily weighted towards pork, with various kinds of dumplings and either sauerkraut or red cabbage. We also worked our way through soups and sausages. It was heavy stuff, designed for lining the stomach, on cold winter days. Italian and Chinese restaurants are beginning to spring up, but for the most part it was traditional Czech food.
No matter how nice the dumplings, or tasty the pork, after a while, it does not appeal. I found myself hankering for an Indian takeaway! I like variety! One of the Weight Watchers leaflets emphasised the need to have variety even when you were on a diet. Tuna baked potatoes may be nice for lunch but not every single day!
I think variety applies in the spiritual realm too! When God gave instructions for the anointing oil to be used by the priesthood, there were five or more different ingredients. Each of the ingredients had symbolic significance, but the fact is that only the combined ingredients together were good enough.
I think that very often my spiritual life takes on the equivalent of the “tuna baked potato every lunchtime”. I might congratulate myself that I have quiet times, or go to every church meeting and do a Bible study with a friend every week – but it sometimes has the feel of the predictable Czech meal of roast pork, dumpling and red cabbage. I don’t think the disciples woke up every morning thinking, “Oh, another blind man to heal today,” or “Let’s listen to the parable of the Good Samaritan one more time.” Everyday was an unexpected adventure. It wasn’t about what they were doing but who they were with that coloured their days. There were so many experiences to taste – walking on water, catching huge nets of fish, witnessing a transfigured Christ on top of a mountain and feeding five thousand people. My life doesn’t measure up to the challenge that Jesus issues.
When everyday of my individual walk with Jesus is an adventure, this has to have a transforming effect on the corporate body. There are times when church meetings too become like the Czech menu. Perhaps for the Czech’s it has to do with what ingredients are available, or the lack of skills of the chefs to cook something innovative or maybe it is just about playing safe. For the Christian in hi or her own walk with Jesus, and in the church life together we have all the ingredients we need, the skill of the Holy Spirit to be innovative and playing it safe never was God’s strategy.