Have you ever used a can of Easy Cheese?
More on that later.
A while back I was listening to a teaching where one of my pastors was talking about some missionaries from my church. They hadn't always been missionaries. They were just like us. They met, got married, held jobs, bought a home, had a child, raised a child and so on. And yet they came to a point in their lives where they took Jesus at his word.
Jesus looked at him and loved him. "One thing you lack," he said. "Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me." Mark 10:21
Really? They actually, literally, with wild abandon took Jesus at his word. They sold everything they had and went to Haiti to be missionaries, to reach out to the people of that nation that were hurting and shared Jesus' love with them. Their sacrifice was huge by our standards, heck, by any standard. But that certain phrase my pastor said was what stuck with me. That phrase... took Jesus at his word. How many times have I read the Bible? Countless. There are over 600 commands. Did you know that? There aren't just 10, there are 613 commands. And yet my life is not radically different than it was 5 years ago. But I have read these commands. I have read the word's of Jesus. Why haven't I taken Jesus at his word?
As an American I lead a comfortable life. I am accustomed to it. It is part of my culture. And when I am not comfortable, I complain. And if I don't outwardly complain, I certainly do a good job of complaining on the inside. So when I take the time to read the Bible, and I read a command like "sell everything you have and follow me" I don't take Jesus at his word, I adapt it to fit my comfortable life. Certainly God doesn't want all of us to sell our things and give it to the poor. Then we would be poor and the poor would be rich and what good could come from that. It's just a role reversal. He must want me to interpret this so it fits my life. Ummmmm, let's see... Jesus wants me tooooo... sell out to the idea of giving everything I have (time, energy, a little bit of my money (because I don't have much to spare), etc.) to the poor aaand... follow God the best I can in my given circumstance. Yep, that sounds OK. Now how can I make that fit into my schedule of being a wife, mom & employee?
Back to the Easy Cheese. Easy Cheese is a processed, chemically altered food product that is extruded from a metal can onto any surface with the idea that it will be consumed. What's really neat about the end of the can is that it has this tip that can make pretty star shapes if you position it just right over a cracker when you squeeze. And if you don't want the star pattern, you can make swirls, zig-zags, polka dots, smiley faces, etc. You can squeeze out cheese to fit any cracker, veggie, trail bologna, sandwich bread, you name it, the possibilities with Easy Cheese are endless. But if you really take cheese back to it's original roots, it wasn't meant to be expelled from a can. It was made from a natural source, animal milk and naturally occurring bacteria. But factory-made cheese overtook traditional cheesemaking in the World War II era, and factories have been the source of most cheese in America and Europe ever since. Today, Americans buy more processed cheese than "real", factory-made or not.
And so with most things, I sacrifice what is good and right, in an attempt to make my life easier. And so I have this Easy Jesus. Where I take his Words in their purest form, read them, and then squeeze them out to fit my life. This season of life is shaped like this particular brand of cracker, so I'll just squeeze my Easy Jesus and what I learned about him this week so he fits into where I am and what I'm doing. Or I'll hear a really good teaching and I'll squeeze my Easy Jesus into a star shape so I remember that one for hopefully longer than the others. But another fact about Easy Cheese... when you get to the place where the can is almost empty it gets more difficult to squeeze the cheese out. It can even leave a nice dent in your finger from pushing on the point so firmly to get that last bit of cheese.
That's kind of where I am now. I have been dispensing my Easy Jesus for so long that I have this dent in my life and I feel like I'm coming to the end of this phase and it's getting harder to read the Bible and not take God at his word. And I don't know what that looks like for me, but I can definitely say that it probably won't be comfortable, it won't be safe (by my standards) and it won't be easy. It's getting harder to squeeze my Easy Jesus each week and I think it's time to get rid of the canned crap that I've been selling myself for years and go back to what He originally wanted to do with me. He wants me to "Love one another".
As I am learning more about what love is, I see that it can take on more forms than I thought possible. And with all of the needs out in my community, surely I can find a unique way to love. Something that reflects what I have learned and not used. And then I won't have to worry about squeezing my Jesus to fit my circumstance. I'll just let him take me back to my natural state and form me into this amazing person that can be molded by Him and aged to the point where my "Love one another" is a wonderful aroma to him. Because even the stinky cheeses can smell good to some people. So while I'm trying to figure this life out, without my canned Jesus, I might stink up the joint with my attempts.
Do you think God uses a clothes pin on his nose when we mess up?