Of cheese puffs and trail mix. An essay on love.
I once attended a Bible school, housed in a giant round building with a HUGE sky-blue dome. No kidding.
The minister was a thin man, short, with a very gentle spirit. He wore soft-gray conservative suits. His wife, also a minister, was a all and rather large woman with a loud, direct manner and a preference for floor-length, ruffled dresses.
In the 80’s.
This was a “dancing” church. Speaking in tongues, right out loud, was common. The music was loud.
We had a lot of fun.
But we could never figure out why the world at large thought we were weird. (Um, duh).
“Be under the spout where the glory comes out!” was our motto.
And we were.
I learned a great deal from these people.
They knew God, and knew a great deal about Him.
We saw real healings. True miracles.
And, one day, the woman minister pointed out that when you are known for moving in God’s power, for getting answered prayers, and for seeing the miraculous change lives, you attract “granola” Christians. I had no idea what that meant.
Then she explained. “Fruits, nuts and flakes!!” She guffawed.
And it was true.
I went on to college from that place. Looking for a church that moved in the miraculous.
Not finding one. I settled for solid Bible teaching and a culture of service.
But I kept looking. Always hungry for the power of God that could change lives. Heal bodies. Fix problems.
In a single bound.
Eventually, I found another church that focused on the “power gifts” and the miraculous.
Through Bible knowledge.
But, interestingly enough, the Bible has something to say about knowledge.
(That might also apply in this divisive political year).
1 Corinthians 8:1-3 Now concerning things offered to idols: We know that we all have knowledge. Knowledge puffs up, but love edifies. And if anyone thinks that he knows anything, he knows nothing yet as he ought to know. But if anyone loves God, this one is known by Him.
Knowledge puffs up.
I have to admit that, as a young Christian, I was pretty “puffy.”
And, embarrassing as it is, we were pretty, er, cheesy.
Historians and critics divide the lives of famous people into “periods.”
Picasso with his “Blue” period, for example.
So I call this my “cheese puff” period.
Lots of crunch. (Granola, anyone?)
Appealing on the outside. Yum, artificial cheese powder with salt AND MSG.
But not very nourishing.
We thought we knew. So much.
And we did. And the miracles were real, too.
But that misses that point.
Because, what is more important, more valuable, than a big, blue, fabric dome?
A real building.
I speak metaphorically. Of course.
Great things have happened in tent revivals.
But, in my life, I want a faith structure that stands.
That provides shelter for others.
That still has room for the miraculous.
For the move of God.
That gives Him time to speak.
But the building block is love.
When we go back in time, and dig up ancient civilizations, we rarely find their fabrics. Their tents.
But edifices? Edifices, well-constructed, stand the test of time.
The “ruins” you can se on a trip to Rome or Athens are …
Made. Of. Stone.
The root word for “edifice” or building.
We build one another up. By love.
Knowledge, alone, brings pride. “Puffs” up.
And won’t stand the test of time.
And so it is that I must tell you how much I respect the two ministers I began this post with.
They might have dressed funny, and had unusual people in their church, but…
They. Walked. In. Love.
And it made an even bigger place for their spiritual gifts. Healings. Miracles.
And, years later, I heard that the woman minister led her nurses to Jesus.
On her deathbed.
And I thought about granola.
Because it can also be called “trail mix.”
Food for the journey.
And I think spiritual gifts are important.
When they are subservient to love.
And cheese puffs and trail mix have one really great use.
At a party.
Where they are opened up, displayed publicly, and consumed by others.
To promote fellowship. And start conversations.
If that’s the life you want, good on ya (as the Aussies say).
Let God open you up, display you publicly (embarrassing, right?) and serve you.
Your knowledge. Your gifts.
To start conversations.
But remember, it’s your love, above all, that will build lasting truth in their lives.