The other evening, while at home, I thought to enjoy a nice cold beverage. I was thinking of the root beer I had in my fridge, and how it would compliment some salty popcorn. The root beer was one of those glass bottles with the twist lid, similar to many beer bottles on the market. I had been saving the root beer for a quiet evening at home, which for me is a special occasion.
I opened my fridge, grabbed the root beer, twisted the cap, and took a nice long swallow. YUCK!! Unfortunately for me it wasn’t the root beer I had grabbed, but an actual beer. One that a friend of mine had left at my place months ago, and I had been saving to cook with (which is about all I do with beer – never have liked the taste).
On my trip to the fridge I hadn’t bothered turning on the kitchen light, trusting my memory to guide me in the darkness. I had grabbed a bottle that had the same shape and feel as my root beer, and the cap twisted off like I knew it would. In that first taste I expected the sweet coldness of a good root beer. What I got was the bitter, sour taste of a cold dark beer, which for me is quite stomach turning.
I wasn’t happy about the mix up until I went back to fridge and found the actual root beer. The sweet taste of the beverage helped to wash away the previously sour-beer taste from my mouth. I then went back to my freezer and found some brats, which I cooked with the beer (gives the brats a good flavor – without all the alcohol).
As I stood by the stove cooking my brats, I kept thinking how this experience was much like one I had over ten years ago. Back then it was another case of mistaken identity, and had far greater significance.
Many of you know this part of my story, the time in my life where a friend of mine shared with me his faith in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. When I first heard that name it held no significance for me whatsoever. In my eighteen years I had never knowingly heard mention of that church name, and I thought he was referencing a Christian denomination that I hadn’t heard of before. I assumed Christian, because my friend was definitely a Christian to my understanding; he was (and still is) a loving, kind person, who knew his Bible inside and out, and was actively involved in church. His image to me was a reflection of all that I had seen growing up in my own church.
By all outward appearances my friend, and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints which he presented to me, looked like the “root beer” I was so use to. What I got instead was a sour taste from a non-root beer.
Just now I hesitated to write that last comment, it sounded unfair to my friend. I always want to be cautious when talking about my Latter-day Saint friends, especially since I know them to be loving and sincere people. They sincerely understand and believe the teachings of Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon, and I relate to their sincerity. Unfortunately, for my Latter-day Saint friends they’ve not experienced the real sweetness of “root beer”, namely Jesus Christ, and aren’t able to compare it to the sour taste of what they do have. My heart bleeds for them as they unknowingly continue to accept the sub-standard.
Getting back to my story, some have asked me through the years why it was that I, knowing how sweet the “root beer” tasted could have been fooled by the imitation. My answer, it wasn’t until I drank deeply that I knew the taste, and therefore didn’t know the difference. Like I said earlier the outward appearance was very similar, not just similar almost identical.
The lifestyle, religious culture, vocabulary…it was all so like my own Christian tradition. It wasn’t until discussions on the very nature of God were broached that I realized the substance inside held the difference. God is that very substance, and His Word speaks to us about His nature and ‘sweetness’.
Never again do I want to replace Christ with an imitation. To know and understand the difference between the true nature of God and the imitations of this world, I study His Word in the Bible.
Going back to my analogy (for you know I love analogies), there are two methods I now use so as not to be found drinking something I should not. First, I turn on the light, no more groping in the dark, assuming I have the right drink because it feels right. Those assumptions and feelings may lead to terrible mistakes. Secondly, I’m a label reader. It’s good to read, and make sure I understand what it is I’m drinking, that it’s not something I wouldn’t desire to ingest.
When we find our “root beer” in Christ, hold tight and enjoy the sweetness!