"So," they say, "nobody's perfect!"
But the Vinedresser won't buy that.
Given the opportunity, He will trim the unproductive suckers and shape the branches so each one will bask in Sonlight.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Artificially Sweetened

Saccharin, aspartame, acesulfame-K, sucralose, mannitol—what’s a body to do? Aren't artificial sweeteners all “equal?” Please pardon the sour pun.
As chemically different as they are from each other, none of them qualify as sugar, despite their sweet taste. One of them leaves an off aftertaste, another tastes slightly bitter if used to excess, still another breaks down under heat, making it ineffective in cooking. Mannitol and sorbitol make a great-tasting candy, if you’re looking for a laxative-effect. Despite the differences, however, their one common purpose is to fool your taste buds, and some of them do so quite well.
King David wrote a song that attributed a kind of flavor to the eternal, self-existent God of Israel. He lyricised, “O taste and see that the LORD is good,” and he should know, as the Bible says he was a man after God’s own heart.
It also says that same eternal God dwells within all Christ-followers. Like sweetened food, regardless what form we take, we’re all characterized by the “taste” of one common Ingredient, the “sweetness” of God’s Holy Spirit.
Like our taste buds, however, our spiritual discernment can be fooled by people who display a form of godliness, or “artificial sweetness,” but don’t contain the authentic Ingredient that only the eternal, self-existent God provides.
I should know; at one time I was one of those spiritually fake sweets. In fact, I contained so much artificial, spiritual fruit that someone said I had, “a sweet spirit” about me. The pity was, I believed her. As they say in show-biz, “It’s truly pathetic when an actor believes his own billing.”
That was then, but this is now. Profound, yes? In a way, however, it is a profound insight, but I can’t claim it as my own. My Master is the changer of people, and after a lifetime of following a maze of misdirection—much of it self-inflicted—he brought me into his perfect Way. Please, don’t misunderstand my meaning; His Way is perfect, while I am anything but!
So, here’s where my carefully-constructed metaphor breaks down. My artificially-sweetened, spiritual fruit rotted. For years I smelled something off about myself, even while I had everyone else fooled. As my old dad used to say, “A fox smells his own den first.” Of course, he didn’t use the word “den.”
Was I saved during all that time? Absolutely sorta! If I had expired, I would have spent eternity with my Master. But then, even if I hadn’t been in Christ, I still would have gone to eternity with my master. Wrong master. The only reason my self-deception and hypocrisy didn’t condemn me to perdition was God’s grace, his wonderful, inexhaustible, eternal grace.
Was I on dangerous ground? Absolutely! If this speaks to something within you, dear reader, I beg you to fall on your face before the Creator of the Universe, but do not plead your case to him. Ask him to convict your heart of any falseness. Don’t let your artificially sweetened, fake fruit rot before finding the Real Thing in Him.

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