A favorite southern tradition of mine is eating boiled peanuts. I just love them. The delicious salty flavor makes me salivate just writing this. The store at the corner where I live almost always has bags of fresh boiled peanuts in the display cooler to grab for a snack. One frustration I have is that while most of the peanuts when you crack them open contain nice full nuts and are delicious, some are not so good. Some are obviously immature and not filled out and I know not to expect much from them. Some are obviously bad and you can see the dirt or rot plainly. I avoid those and throw them out immediately. Still others look perfect on the outside but when you get past the shell they are empty inside or have barely any substance. These are the ones that bother me most.
What my heart desires when I purchase a bag is for all the peanuts to be perfect, well-formed, full, salty and delicious. But sadly that is never what I get, a good portion are misshapen and empty and aren’t fit for consumption. But the worst of all are those that look wonderful on the outside but after investing the time to open are empty or not fit to eat.
As a Pastor, I often hear new people complaining that their experience with churches sadly are very similar. They have an expectation or a strong desire to find a church, a good church that is full of beautiful, loving, salt and light Christians. They come to “taste and see” and instead of finding a church full of good and holy and righteous people that are fulfilling and soul satisfying. They encounter more bent, broken, empty and sometimes down right rotten folks than the loving disciples and Christ followers they had hoped to find. They encounter murmuring, gossiping, bitter, backbiting, contentious saints who are so selfish and self-centered that they are of no heavenly good. My friends this should not be so.
The Apostle Paul addresses this very thing in Ephesians 4:1 “I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. 2 Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. 3 Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. 4There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called; 5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism; 6 one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all. 7 But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it… 12 so that the body of Christ may be built up 13 until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.”
I still love boiled peanuts, and the church, but I love them both so much more when they are full and salty and soul satisfyingly good. Let us therefore strive all the more to be fully who and what Christ intends us to be. I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. Be Salt and Light so that the world may taste and see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven!