Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg speaks often of his religion—but he tailors it to fit his politics, and it focuses on works over faith
You are invited to an event featuring exotic coffees and spiced ciders, and you avidly go.
Upon arrival you find a large and festive room, every wall covered with photos of coffees, teas, and fruit nectars. As at a museum, you mosey slowly past each one in studious attention: here a lavender French Perle Groove mug, there a clay hand-warmer mug from Oregon, a few steps further a Pfaltzgraff Winterberry glass, turning the corner a pair of Waterford Crystal Irish coffee glasses.
Each receptacle, more lovely than the last, is photographed and framed with care, attention paid to capture light and surface beads of frost to tantalize the eye. Off to the side is a table with free color brochures that describe each coffee’s pedigree and each cider’s land of origin. Descriptions of the wares include such words as earthy, spicy, bouquet, and almond finish.
That’s it. Then you go home.
It isn’t those who say ‘Lord, Lord’ who know God best but those who do His will. When you obey, you know God better afterward.
God is not such a host. He says: “Taste and see that the Lord is good” (Psalm 34:8). You think at first He must mean “Come and see.” The word taste is poetry, you think, like the writing on key chains at curio shops to make us sigh and mewl. (“Love is never having to say you’re sorry,” remember that?) Still, I got curious enough to find a dictionary.
Taste: “to try or test the flavor or quality of (something) by taking it into the mouth.”
“Oh, the depths of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God”—but these depths are reserved for those who taste. They step out on His Word and prove it true. They cast all to the wind and drink it down. To nontasters, the Scriptures and promises attached to discipleship remain flat pictures at an exhibition, nothing more.
“The proof is in the pudding,” your teacher said. And she spoke profoundly. How do you know puddingness? By a graduate-level course in pudding? By a study of ingredients and origins? You have missed the essence if you haven’t put spoon to mouth. It isn’t those who say “Lord, Lord” who know God best but those who do His will. When you obey, you know God better afterward. You feel better afterward. “Trust and obey / For there’s no other way / To be happy in Jesus.” That’s the surprise discovery.
The prodigal son sort of knew beforehand that his father was a decent man. But he never would have learned the extent of the old man’s goodness had he not ventured on him wholly—had he not tested the “flavor and quality” of him. There was more to his father than his feckless youthful self had ever known.
Jesus asked Levi to leave everything and follow Him. Had Levi not immediately done it, he might have known Jesus as a good teacher but wouldn’t have known what it was like to taste Him—the thrill, the fear, the freedom of absolute free fall, of cutting loose all financial security, social identity, and predictability. He might have had a fine little life for himself and died with his family around his bed. But that’s all.
The Israelites were robbing God (Malachi 3:8). They thought they had to “take care of No. 1.” God proposed a taste test. “Bring the full tithe into the storehouse … put me to the test, says the Lord of hosts, if I will not open the windows of heaven for you and pour down for you a blessing until there is no more need” (v. 10).
Hear the yearning in His voice. “Oh, that my people would listen to me, that Israel would walk in my ways! ... The LORD … would feed you [tasting!] with the finest of the wheat, and with honey from the rock I would satisfy you” (Psalm 81:13, 16).
Jesus did not shrink from tasting, but “taste[d] death for everyone” (Hebrews 2:9). And as reward for downing that foamy cup “God has highly exalted him” (Philippians 2:9).
This year let us not just know about God. Let us know God. It doesn’t even have to be a big thing. Just the breakthrough of being first to say “I love you” or “Forgive me” to your spouse.