A few weeks ago, when temperatures here were set to flirt with 100 for four days straight, my husband and I went grocery shopping for cold, ready-to-eat foods that didn’t have to be cooked. We came home with an assortment of hummuses (hummusi?), cottage cheese, pickles, salsa and … beets.
My husband is the beet lover in our family. I’m not sure how or when my aversion to them developed (maybe it’s the color or the story I heard in science class once about what they do to your urine if you eat too many), but beets has never been on my grocery list. Or gardening list. Or any other kind of list except the “foods I don’t particularly care for” list. Other names on the list in the past have included tuna, barbecue chips, lima beans, and tapioca. Recently, I have learned to enjoy tuna, have eaten barbecue chips without throwing up (which is what caused me to dislike them in the first place) and have stomached lima beans, as long as they are mixed with other things.
Thinking that maybe I should give beets a second chance, I decided I’d try one. I told my husband I might, but I’d have to do it without an audience. Tonight proved the perfect opportunity. After opening the jar, I took a whiff, expecting to be disgusted by the smell. Actually, what was inside the jar smelled a lot like pickles. Go figure. Something pickled smells like something else pickled. I stabbed a beet with my fork, closed my eyes and took a bite, once again expecting disgust. Instead, I tasted a little bit of sweetness. I could taste the earthiness of the beet, but the sweetness surprised me. I expected to be repulsed by the texture, but that didn’t really bother me either. Would I eat one again? Maybe. I’m not sure they’re on my favorites list yet, but I certainly won’t badmouth them, especially since my daughter ate four or five of them herself this week.
Shortly after the beet jar was opened, my husband and I, prompted by a Facebook post and a book he’s reading, were discussing evangelism. We’re both becoming more relational in our efforts to share our faith. Relational, in that, we desire to get to know people and befriend them, involve them in our lives and get to know their needs, living out our faith and looking for opportunities to share the hope we have. This isn’t always popular in a Christian tradition whose very name — evangelical — brings to mind street preachers, Bible thumpers and people trying, often sincerely, to persuade people they don’t even know to make a commitment to Christ. (I’m not saying there’s never a time for this. If God prompts, you act.)
But, as my husband said, in defense of relational evangelism: “I wouldn’t force beets down your throat. Why would I force Jesus down anyone’s throat?”
Thus the real motive for my trying the beets tonight. My husband loves beets. He got my daughter to try them, and she appeared to love them. They aren’t bad for me. I haven’t tried them in a long time, if ever. Maybe I’d like them.
So it is with Jesus. I love Him. He has changed my life for the better, giving me true life. He improves my life, not by giving me everything I’ve ever wanted or could think of having but by being in relationship with me, walking with me through suffering and trial. He “gave himself for (my) sins to rescue (me) from the present evil age” (Galatians 1:4).
But people who don’t know me may not believe that until they see it lived out day to day. They may have tried Christianity once and it left a bad taste in their mouth, so they are reluctant to try it again. It is the regular relationship, the see-it-for-yourself changed life, that for some will have more effect than the slam-it-down-your-throat-if-you-know-what’s-good-for-you tactic.
Confession time: I didn’t eat the whole beet. And I ate two chocolate chip cookies afterward.
Beets are an acquired taste, I think.
So, too, is Jesus.
“Taste and see that the Lord is good …” Psalm 34:8