Sometime in the last couple of years I discovered that I prefer soda made with real sugar. Up to that point, beyond the guilty feeling that it was incredibly unhealthy, I was not accustomed to thinking much about the contents of my favorite soda. Then, unexpectedly, the soft drink industry (seemingly all at once) began marketing alternatives to famous name sodas made with sugar as opposed to the much more ubiquitous corn syrup. Because I’m a bit of a sucker for new things, I gave them a try, and I realized that I could notice a significant difference between the sugar and corn syrup versions of my favorite soda. It’s amazing how one subtle change can leave such a huge difference in a flavor.
A great taste will leave a lasting memory, and a strong desire to experience it again. A bad taste can also leave a lasting memory, as anyone who has ever discovered the expiration of date of their milk the hard way can attest.
Our lives can also have a flavor — a lingering effect that can stay in the hearts of all those we come in contact with. Just like our sense of taste can immediately detect a flavor, the impression we leave on the lives around us is often both immediate and long-lasting. So, of course, we try hard to manufacture the right flavor. We try to manage exterior factors like our conversational skills and our appearance to try to leave the right first (or second or third) impression. As many food companies are now discovering, however, the best flavors are the ones that are produced naturally.
In the Bible, the Apostle Paul talks about the flavor that we should be producing in our lives: Fruit of the Spirit. The Book of Galatians is a letter Paul wrote to directly address some problems that he observed in the community of believers there. As Paul was unraveling and confronting the drama in the church, he wrote “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other.” (Galatians 5:22-26)
Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control are all are fruit: the natural result of a life lived by the Spirit — a life submitted to God and allowing Him to work inside of us. When we try to imitate these flavors, it comes off as artificial, like cherry-flavored candy as opposed to actual cherries. People can sense fake kindness as quickly as we can sense the difference between sugar and corn syrup.
Rather than trying to manufacture the right flavor in our lives, let’s try to cultivate the right fruit. I’d like to invite you to invest in your relationship with God, and know that his Spirit can create a perfect flavor in and through us!
Rev. Grant Parkki is the Christian Education Associate Pastor at Kenai New Life. Kenai New Life is located at 209 Princess Street in Kenai, with Sunday services at 9 a.m. and 10:30 a.m., with programs for children, youth, and adults at 6:30 on Wednesday evenings. You can find out more about the church and its ministries at kenainewlife.org.