I enjoyed our discussion about what it takes to be a Salty Christian last week, but I’m excited to share what God has been showing me this week about how my spiritual nourishment is not a matter of personal taste.
Taste Begins in the Womb
When I was pregnant with our oldest son, I ate a ton of shrimp and broccoli. To this day, that remains a family favorite meal. Though our youngest son didn’t take to broccoli on his first taste.
Scientists have discovered that by week 8 of pregnancy, baby’s taste buds begin developing and connecting to brain neurons. By week 16, the baby can taste the amniotic fluid. And get this…. it is SALTY. I had never heard that before and based on our discussion last week, my mind is blown! There is even some evidence to support the theory that what the mother consumes while baby is in the womb impacts future food preferences (I must not have eaten enough broccoli with #2). Without the sense of smell to amplify their flavors, baby tastes a more mellow form of what mama eats. For more on this cool developmental milestone you can check out this article from What To Expect.
There is no denying that as a mother I am almost solely responsible for what my baby consumes, at least for the first couple of years. I feel as though it is my duty to introduce new foods, reintroduce those that weren’t well received the first time, and provide quality, nutrient dense calories to my babies (who are now 10 and 12). All that helps to shape what they will eat in the future, but it isn’t the end of their preference formation.
Passing On Our Preferences
Both what our parents consumed and what they provided for us to eat as children impact the development of our taste preferences. Our experiences and preferences impact the next generation, too. Both physically and spiritually.
I heard a story of a man who ate a grape for the first time and exclaimed, “That doesn’t taste like a grape.” He’d been raised on artificially flavored kool-aid and popsicles and decided he didn’t like real grapes because they didn’t taste like what he’d been told was grape all his life.
If you grew up topping pancakes with artificially flavored maple syrup, the real stuff straight from the tree might not taste very good to you.
If your family raised you on spam, a filet mignon might not meet your needs for meat.
The point is, just because we’re used to it, doesn’t mean there’s truth to it.Just because we’re used to it, doesn’t mean there’s truth to it. #spiritualnourishment #developingdiscernment #5senses #experiencingGod #tasteandsee Click To Tweet
When Expectations Impact Our Experiences
The same thing often happens with our spiritual formation. If we were raised on hellfire and brimstone, grace might taste a little funny to us. Or if we learned only the love and acceptance of Jesus as youngsters, the law might seem unpalatable. If our spiritual formation is narrow in the scope of God’s character, we may learn only a portion of His attributes. Later in life when we learn and experience more, we might become confounded that He didn’t act like we expected Him to.
When we get set in our ways and our opinions about who God is, we’re tempted to fall into the trap of thinking, “No God of mine would…” You can finish that sentence in any number of ways. We can’t judge our experience with God based solely on our expectations. We have to turn to truth to develop discernment. The truth is, God is beyond our comprehension, but what He wants us to know about His character is contained in the Book He wrote for us.
No Substitute for Scripture
Our food consumption practices have been under attack for some time now. Because some doctor somewhere decided our diets were too high in fat or too high in sugar, scientists began creating fake fat and fake sugar as substitutes for the real stuff. Now we’re discovering those substitutes have side effects. Dangerous ones. As the pendulum swings back to the health benefits of certain foods once deemed detrimental….we need good fats in their natural form and chemicals are often as toxic as the sugars they were meant to replace.
The same thing happens when we turn to things that are like Scripture but aren’t Scripture for our spiritual nourishment. Bloggers (yes, I said it), books containing someone’s opinion of what the Bible says, even preachers who mishandle (or sometimes even manipulate) God’s Word for their own gain, aren’t doing us any favors if they feed us half-truths, even if it looks good and makes us feel good. Not all of them are bad, but it is up to you (with the help of the Holy Spirit) to find out which ones are.
There is no substitute for Scripture. We cannot take what others feed us about the Bible as truth. We must investigate for ourselves at the source and with the help of His Holy Spirit. If your spiritual health isn’t quite what you’d like it to be, take some time to evaluate what you’ve been feeding your soul?If your spiritual health isn’t quite what you’d like it to be, take some time to evaluate what you’ve been feeding your soul? #5senses #experiencingGod #tasteandsee #spiritualnourishment Click To Tweet
Spiritual Nourishment Takes Personal Discipline
I have a friend who was raised on pure junk food, but now she is a nutritional coach. She claimed responsibility for her food choices, researched for herself, and discovered what was beneficial for her body. I can’t blame or credit my parents for what I put into my body now that I’m in my (ahem) 40s. At some point just about all children have to assume responsibility for their own food choices. If you’re reading this, chances are you’ve already reached that age.
Eventually, we have to read the labels ourselves and distinguish fact from fiction, real from artificial, proper doctrine from personal preference, and beneficial from bad. This is the mark of spiritual maturity.
*Choosing to consume what is good for us, even when we don’t like how it tastes.
* Desiring the truth over what we’ve become accustomed to.
*Accepting what’s real even when we don’t care for it.
It takes discipline to properly nourish our bodies and our souls. Taste is often subjective, but truth isn’t. I may not want to eat kale. I may not like the way it tastes or how long I have to chew it. But I cannot deny its health benefits. It’s good for me whether I like it or not. Eating kale instead of candy corn takes a certain level of maturity and discipline (one I’ll confess I don’t possess often enough).
God is truth and He alone is Good. We don’t get to say something isn’t true because we don’t like the way it tastes. Even if babies make funny faces when they taste it, broccoli is still good for them. As a mother it was my job to keep introducing it until my baby liked it. As an adult, I need to keep trying kale (and truth) until it becomes the thing that sustains me. We don’t get to say God isn’t good if we don’t like the way an experience makes us feel.Taste is often subjective, but truth isn’t. #5senses #experiencingGod #spiritualnourishment #tasteandsee Click To Tweet
The Progression of Spiritual Nourishment
It’s true, we introduce easy to digest foods to infants first. We start them on breastmilk or formula designed to provide necessary nutrition without taxing the digestive system. Then we add some pureed foods that also go down easily. Slowly, as their teeth and mouths develop we begin to introduce small bits of cooked meats and other food that requires chewing.
The Apostle Paul talks about how we need to gradually move from milk to meat and potatoes in our spiritual formation. My friend Rachel Schmoyer encourages us to Read the Hard Parts because, much like the necessity of kale to our bodies, the hard parts of Scripture encourage us to go deeper in our faith and trust God’s truth.
If you’ve ever seen a baby make a broccoli face, you know certain tastes are acquired. I kept introducing broccoli to my younger boy, and eventually, he learned to love it, too. I tried different cooking methods and seasonings to make it more palatable. I didn’t give up on this great leafy green. Nor will I give up on the meatier parts of Scripture, because those contain the nutrient dense truths my soul requires to stand firm in my faith in this world.
Spiritual nourishment is less about taste and more about truth.Spiritual nourishment is less about taste and more about truth. #5senses #experiencinggod #tasteandsee #spiritualnourishment Click To Tweet
Don’t’ Miss Next Week….
Next week I’m excited to invite you to join me on a challenge for developing a craving for Christ and consuming spiritually superior Scripture over substitutes. Read about 4 Ways to Create a Craving for Christ!
Linking Up With
For more encouragement please join the discussions on these fabulous blog link ups – Suzanne Eller, Faith On Fire, Susan B. Mead, Faith Filled Friday, Grace and Truth, Faith and Fellowship Friday, Soul Survival, Rah Rah Link Up, Tell His Story, Sitting Among Friends, Testimony Tuesday, Planting Roots, and Fresh Market Friday, Salt and Light, and Becoming Press’s Writer Wednesday, Moments of Hope