Yesterday, I was reading the book of James and eating a pickle. Good combo. I really love this book. Written by Jesus' half brother, this book really gets down to the nitty gritty of what it looks like to be a Christian. Sure, we know what we believe, but how do the things we believe transform who we are? If there is a guy who can talk about a transformed life, James is it. He spent all of his growing up years with Jesus, never believing his older brother's claims. Yet, when James encountered the ressurected Jesus, Jesus wasn't just his half brother any more--Jesus was his Lord and Savior! James' life showed this to be true.
James writes to encourage Jewish Christians who are facing persecution for their faith. In the midst of persecution, it would be easy to take a couple steps back and shy away from boldly lived faith...it would be easy to neuter it down to a list of beliefs--head knowledge. But what James shows us is that isn't true Christianity.
We can have all the right head knowledge, yet never live a transformed life. We can know all the right stuff...and still look just like everyone else.
So, back to that pickle. That pickle bcame a delicious, juicy, garlic-ladened epiphany in my mind. Every pickle starts out as a cucumber (no, that is not the entire epiphany...read on). Nothing against cucumbers, but they don't have a whole lot of flavor...at least not when you compare them to a pickle. But when you pickle a cucumber it takes on the flavors of whatever you are saturating it in. There are some really good pickles, and some really bad pickles...they may look the same, but what's their flavor?
You are more like a pickle than you think.
What things are you saturating your life in? We naturally start taking on the flavor of the people, media, culture, and worldviews we surround ourselves with. For many of us...that should make us a bit nervous...we may just be bad pickles.
But, if our lives are saturated by the transforming power of the Holy Spirit, if we are being led by him in all the choices we make, if we are producing the fruit that naturally flows from a transformed life--love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness and self control, and if we are fellowshiping with a body of believers that challenge us to live bold, transformed lives--well...thats one tasty pickle!
Here are a couple verses that I will now continually remember as the pickle verses:
1 Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. 2 Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will. --Romans 12:1-2