Chopsticks vs. Forks

I had the blessed opportunity to spend about 8 days in Taiwan last week, and it was so good to be back. Visiting good friends, eating the food I love, and enjoying the beautiful sights were just a few the pleasures I was able to indulge in.

Throughout my visit, I had the chance to catch up with numerous relationships, and often we did that over a meal (did I mention I love the food?). It was during some of those meals that I realized how much I enjoy the Taiwanese way of dining together. In America, whenever you eat out, the food primarily is prepared for your plate alone. Meaning, a plate is set before me, and the food that is flirting with me is for my mouth only – merely exemplifying the individualistic tendencies of our Western culture.

However, in Taiwan, most often all of the food is placed in the middle of the table, and then friends “dive in” together to share bites of tasty morsels all while ensuing in fun dialog. This collective approach gives everyone a chance to taste some of the same things, and creates even more opportunities to have quality fellowship.

Why does it matter? Well, while I’m not going to say that one culture trumps the other, I do appreciate the Taiwanese perspective for one primary reason: it focuses on the relationship! Instead of encouraging you to look down at your own plate while you seek to scarf your food down, the Taiwanese approach reminds you that the mealtime is more about the friendships than just the food – because isn’t that what it’s really all about anyway?

I’ve been reading the book ‘With’ by Skye Jethani, and I’ve appreciated so much the reminder that our God is a relational God. However, so often, instead of pursuing my “Friend,” I focus on the “food,” and thereby miss out on what the “meal” is all about. As Skye puts it, my heart cry also is that our God “would cease to be how we acquire our treasure, and he would become our treasure.” Are we enjoying life with Him simply because of who He is, or is it more about the delicious taste of life that we are hoping to get from Him?

Under God

Saint Paul's Cathedral

I’ve been reading the book With by Skye Jethani. I have not finished it yet, but just the first few chapters have been keenly insightful to my relationship with God.

Jethani talks about how many times we view ourselves in an “Under God” relationship with our Heavenly Father. This view rightly acknowledges Him as the Creator who is over us, who has the right set the moral rules and laws in this world. The problem comes when we try to manipulate God into blessing us by being morally good. Have you ever heard someone say, “How could God let this happen to me? I’ve always gone to church!” Or, “How could so-and-so be dying of cancer, they have done so many good works for God.”
This view, which started out so well, quickly turns into nothing different than that of the heathens of old, who offered sacrifices so that the rains would come, the locusts would stop or their flocks and herds would grow.
As C.S. Lewis describes, God “isn’t safe, but He is good.” We cannot manipulate Him into giving us good grades, a new car, health, wealth, or salvation. Jesus Christ didn’t save us because we were morally good, but because we could never be good enough to earn anything from God except eternal separation.
Let’s live like God really is who He says He is and that He does what He says He will do. Stop trying to manipulate Him into giving you what you want and being offended at Him when it doesn’t work. Realize that in Christ He has blessed us not because of how good we are, but only because of how good He is!