Guest / Limited Access /
Taste the Soup
Taste the Soup

A man goes into a deli, orders the matzo ball soup, and motions the waiter back to his table.

"Taste the soup," says the man.

"Sir, is something wrong?" asks the waiter. "I can get you another bowl right away."

"Taste the soup," says the man.

"Sir, is there something you want me to tell the chef?"

"Taste the soup."

"Fine," says the waiter, exasperated. "I'll taste it. Where's the spoon?"

"Aha!" says the man.

Sometimes you have to do what's being asked of you before you understand why it's required. You have to be willing to taste the soup in order to discover the spoon is missing. In religious parlance: "Understanding follows obedience." It's an axiom every bit as true as it is vexing. Psalm 111 observes that "all who follow [God's] precepts have good understanding"—not the other way around.

Lately, for me, the command to "taste the soup" has been about attending church. Trouble is, I just haven't felt like going.

I've been sliding into pews (or modern equivalents) from infancy; my vocation has taken me to hundreds of churches around the world. I've met some of my dearest friends and endured some of my darkest betrayals in youth rooms, foyers, and sanctuaries. I've cried, sung, prayed, committed, disconnected, recommitted, scribbled sermon notes, doodled, been wounded, been healed, encountered the Mystery, and dozed off—sometimes all in the same service.

There are seasons when Sunday can't come soon enough. The gifts church has given me are too numerous to list.

But there are also stretches of disillusionment. Times when the songs that once ushered me into a profound awareness of God's presence seem suddenly schlocky and manipulative. Mornings when I can't find anyone I know during the "greeting" time, and a previously cozy ...

Subscriber access only You have reached the end of this Article Preview

To continue reading, subscribe now. Subscribers have full digital access.

From Issue:
Read These NextSee Our Latest
RecommendedWhy Can't Men Be Friends?
Subscriber Access Only Why Can't Men Be Friends?
Men and women alike increasingly say they are lonely. It doesn't have to be this way.
TrendingDeconversion: Some Thoughts on Bart Campolo’s Departure from Christianity
Deconversion: Some Thoughts on Bart Campolo’s Departure from Christianity
Bart Campolo's departure from Christianity–some reflections about faith and (our) families.
Editor's PickPowers in the Hood
Powers in the Hood
It takes more than good intentions to do urban ministry—it requires spiritual armor.
Comments
Christianity Today
Taste the Soup
hide thisSeptember September

In the Magazine

September 2012

To continue reading, subscribe now for full print and digital access.