Vanilla Coke Syndrome

VCI was recently on vacation and sharing a vacation home with a few other folks. We went together on things like groceries while we were there. One of the guys with whom I was sharing the house picked up a carton of Vanilla Coke. I had never tried it and was intrigued. I really like vanilla, and I can swig a can of Coke with the best of them, so I figured it was worth a try.

I didn’t like it.

Somewhere in the mix, it lost something for me. I could really taste the vanilla, and I could really taste the Coke. Usually, when flavors like that are mixed, they combine to form an entirely different taste. Not in this case—at least not for me. It was almost like I was drinking a swallow of vanilla extract with a Coke chaser. Not my idea of a refreshing drink. I’m sure a lot of you like it, and you can have it. I’ll buy you one the next time we’re together.

I don’t exactly know why it is, but the church tends to be like a Vanilla Coke. We’ve got all these different flavors in one big drink. One would think (at least this one) we would form a whole new taste. Maybe we do sometimes. But more often than not, we don’t like the new flavor, so we keep them separated. I like vanilla, I like Coke, but I don’t like Vanilla Coke. A lot of Christians like the various flavors of church, but we prefer not to mix them. We apparently don’t like the new flavor. We’d rather stick with our favorite. “Birds of a feather” and all that…

I know I’m mixing metaphors, but I hope you see what I’m driving at here. If our way (whatever our way happens to be) is more important to us than coming up with a new flavor, a different looking congregation, or a worship service that appeals to someone besides ourselves, is it worth keeping? I’ve noticed that some things don’t taste very pleasing to me the first go around. But the next time, if I’m really hungry or thirsty, the taste grows on me. Often I grow to like it—crave it even.

Oh that we would be so hungry and thirsty for God and His people that we would form a new flavor—a flavor that the world would want to seek after, taste, and be satisfied. Are we the salt or seasoning that Jesus said we would be? Or are we willing to dine alone on the same old fare? The world has been invited to “taste and see that the Lord is good.” Are we blocking their taste buds or flavoring their food?

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