I was always a good eater as a child, in fact I was called ‘dustbin’ at one point due to my skill of polishing off not just my food but any other leftovers on the table. There’s only a few things I’m not really keen on, celery, coconut and cucumber. You can do things to food that makes them go from awful to acceptable, coconut in Krispie Biscuits is yum. Half a packet at once yum actually but in Cherry Ripe? Disgusting, hideous and wrong.
Even vegetables can change from being not too edible to delicious depending on how they are cooked. There are a number of vegetables I wouldn’t usually eat uncooked but when I sit down with said raw veges with a pot of dip, everything is different. Carrots for example, without dip, are torturous to eat uncooked. Thet’re bitty and don’t go down well, they try to kill you with every bite. With dip on that carrot though, look out, just call me Bugs Bunny. It’s completely different. Broccoli; bring it, cauli; line it up. Even small celery sticks will get a look in thanks to the heavenly nectar that is dip.
Carrots aren’t the issue, I like carrots. It’s what I put with them that makes them more acceptable. Our lives as people on a faith journey with Jesus are the same. I’m not calling God a dip but I do need help in my life to be more like Him. The Bible says in Colossians 4:5-6 “Act wisely toward outsiders, redeeming the time. Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.” How are you allowing God to season your life?
Spiritually we need to be ‘dipped’ and made different through God’s work in our lives as we are always on display, a living advert for His church, faith and religion in general for those who watch us. So this week, is your life going to show that you live with or without dip?
I had the privilege last week of sitting as part of a discussion group of people with a heart for establishing Maori Ministries in the Southern Division. I am not someone who usually gets nervous, but I was nervous before this meeting. I am of Maori descent, but having been raised in a pakeha family I felt like there wasn’t much I could contribute to these kinds of discussions. It is only in the past ten years or so as I have discovered and learned things about Te Ao Maori. I have come to find that some things only really make sense to me when explained within the context or language of a Maori worldview. And so I am passionate about wanting to see Maori Ministries make an impact here in the South. But what else do I have to contribute other than wholehearted support and agreement?
I was afraid. I was afraid of making a fool of myself, of saying the wrong thing or doing the wrong thing and offending someone. I was afraid that my lack of knowledge or experience made me the wrong representative for my corps to send – that my very presence might seem like I was making a mockery of the whole thing. I doubted myself, my own rights to be there. I said: “I’m not even a real Maori…” On the flight there, God spoke to me about my fears. He helped me see that my fears are common amongst so many of us, who in our heart of hearts want to see Maori Ministries advance through Te Ope Whakaora but we just don’t see ourselves as being able to take responsibility for that part of our mission. Surely someone else is more qualified than me, right?
There was a time though, when Christianity wasn’t part of my culture. Words like “hallelujah” and “hosanna” were foreign to me, but now they’re part of my vocabulary simply because there is no English word that quite translates the essence of those words correctly, or if there is, I’d need whole paragraphs to explain one word. In the same way we use words in Te Reo like “tapu”, “mana”, or “turangawaewae”. There are ways of doing things, concepts and ideas that are part of my everyday life now that weren’t before I became a Christian. And the first time I practiced those I was afraid of all the same things – of getting it wrong, of mispronouncing words or using them in the wrong context. Of being exposed as an imposter – of giving away how little knowledge and experience I had. Of offending someone by wearing the wrong thing, saying the wrong thing, or doing the wrong thing.
But we can get through that again, can’t we? Push through the awkward and uncomfortable newness of it all for the sake of developing a culture within our corps and centres that really does offer a place for all to belong? We can’t leave it to someone else anymore. We can’t hold back because of fear and still hope to be The Army That Brings Life. The moment I chose to stop believing I didn’t belong at the table was the moment I made room for others with stories like mine. Let’s not be afraid to make mistakes anymore and instead just accept that it’s part of our growth. Kia kaha.