Thursday, 16 January 2014

I don't like beets

Probably not the best title.  Especially for a religion blog.  After all, if God wants us all to love all things, one should embrace the beet and enjoy it for the delicious vegetable it is.

But it's not.  It's just not.  

In my opinion, of course, and many people do indeed love beets.  Everyone's entitled to their own opinion, aren't they?  And that can't be wrong.

Again, not the most popular route to go with religion.

Still, my point is that I don't like beets.  At all.  I don't eat them, won't eat them.  Ever.  I'm not fussy or picky, really, I simply don't like them.

When people ask me why not, I could come up with all sorts of answers (that are valid to me, of course): don't like the texture, the colour, the flavour.  Cooked, raw, pickled (don't even start me on pickling), it doesn't matter, I don't like them.

But the real reason is the one I like to give before anyone asks the question: because I tried them.  And I don't like them.

How often do we try to convince people, "just try it, you'll like it?" Especially children and vegetables.  How will you know if you don't try it?

Most everyone knows the story of Jesus calling the disciples.  He walks by the sea, there are fishermen, he calls to them and they follow.

But there's a  different story in John's gospel (John 1:29-42).  John the Baptizer is teaching his followers and others and trying to explain that he is not the promised one, but only the one who comes first to tell the world that the promised one is coming.  (Perhaps John the Announcer would've been a better name.)

He sees Jesus coming towards them and says "this is the guy, right here.  This is the guy I've told you about."  And the next day, he sees Jesus again and two of his own disciples hear him say "this is the guy again" and it makes them curious.  So they follow Jesus.  And Jesus asks them what they're looking for and he says to them, "come and see."  So they stay with Jesus for a while.  And they decide to follow him instead of John.  And one of them tells his brother to "come and see."  And he also becomes a disciple of Jesus.  And then there are more that "come and see."

Jesus is revealed to the first disciples by their own witness.  They tried it, they liked it, they stayed.  Perhaps a better way to say that is that they loved it.

I'm not comparing Jesus and beets, believe me.  But, as human beings, we are very experientially oriented.  Sure we can learn by reading the instructions or the manual or the book, but it's only when we try it out ourselves that we really "know" it.  You can anticipate how you might feel, you can even make a guess based on experience of other things, but you won't really know until you've tried it.

John's followers could have, as anyone else can, made all sorts of assumptions about Jesus.  But they followed him and found out.  And they were drawn to Jesus and became his disciples.  And they wanted to learn more.

If only we thought everything was worthy of that kind of attention.  But, instead, we often find it easier to make the assumptions - usually based on little real knowledge or experience - and think we know: people, places, ideas.  Even church.  If you've never been, you could easily decide not to try it.  It's not like we've always represented ourselves in the best light.  But if you haven't tried tried it, how do you know.  Perhaps you should come and see.