JST had been nagging me to stop being such a fruitist and to give the avocado another chance. As a child, I’d detested the texture of the thing – tasteless, fatty, mashable. When compared with the exciting crisp sweet tartness of the apples that I adored or the rich umami sunshine of the tomatoes I ate by the basketful, the avo was a dud.
My first taste of the thing again in adulthood was in Melbourne just last month, where avocado toast was a hipster cafe menu staple. At the Dr. Jekyll Cafe (107-113 Grey Street, St. Kilda, Melbourne) with HM, I tried their rendition – an avocado and Meredith feta mash, with mint and lemon on rye toast, with a poached egg. Delicious.
Then in London, LH kindly had me round for breakfast, and there, gloriously, was avocado toast with crisp bacon. Arguably, anything tastes better with bacon, but this demonstrated an important fact of life that fools like me keep forgetting: we measure everyone by some arbitrary standard (eg. must have tartness) and dismiss those who don’t conform as failures. But it would be silly of us not to consider how to use the unique characteristics of different things to fulfil other purposes (eg. avocado as foil to dry toast, as a neutral base for other flavours).
I guess that’s very useful wisdom for all of life: when managing colleagues at work, when bringing up the children, when comparing ourselves to others, etc.
Of course, in last decade, the world has tried to correct this by damning any sort of standard as hegemonic and as causing the victimisation of anyone who doesn’t/can’t conform. But the worldview that undergirds this is fundamentally rusty – a sort of postmodernism that insists (when convenient) that every view is right, every trait is good, and that the self-affirmative happiness of the individual is paramount.
In many evangelical circles, perhaps in a wholesale stand against postmodernity, the opposite is the norm. Not only do we concern ourselves with a ranking of churches with good doctrine and teachers with good Bible handling skills, we categorise the rest of the congregation too so that on the top-most layer are the people we consider “sorted”, or “blokes/birds worth watching”.
Certain Standard, Erroneous Observation/Communication
Certainly godliness and Christ-likeness is the standard we must, as God’s saved people and adopted children, all conform to. But we will all fail at this time and again, either publicly or in the privacy of our hearts.
Further, how godliness is expressed in the minutiae in everyday life might differ. In this fallen world, there is probably wisdom in allowing for the misinterpretation of the speech and actions because of our own fallenness and/or the inadvertent miscommunication by others.
Evangelical circles also highly prize those with teaching and preaching gifts. Those gifts are certainly very important for the life of the church and individual Christians, because we grow by feeding on the word of God teaching.
Perhaps our first error is to conflate godliness with good Bible-handling skills. Ability to teach is merely one of the many characteristics required of an overseer in 1 Timothy 3 and Titus 1, and is not expected of all Christians.
Perhaps our second error is to assume that only one sort of gift is valuable. What about the almost enviable gifts of encouragement or administration?
And perhaps our third error is to esteem the gift and the gifted, rather than the gifter.
And perhaps our fourth error is to forget that the gift is not for the individual (and his/her ego) but for the good of the church.
1 Corinthians 12:
4 Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; 5 and there are varieties of service, but the same Lord; 6 and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who empowers them all in everyone. 7 To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. 8 For to one is given through the Spirit the utterance of wisdom, and to another the utterance of knowledge according to the same Spirit, 9 to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit, 10 to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another the ability to distinguish between spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues. 11 All these are empowered by one and the same Spirit, who apportions to each one individually as he wills.
12 For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. 13 For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—Jews or Greeks, slaves or free—and all were made to drink of one Spirit.
14 For the body does not consist of one member but of many. 15 If the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body”, that would not make it any less a part of the body. 16 And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body”, that would not make it any less a part of the body. 17 If the whole body were an eye, where would be the sense of hearing? If the whole body were an ear, where would be the sense of smell? 18 But as it is, God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose. 19 If all were a single member, where would the body be? 20 As it is, there are many parts, yet one body.
21 The eye cannot say to the hand, “I have no need of you”, nor again the head to the feet, “I have no need of you.” 22 On the contrary, the parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, 23 and on those parts of the body that we think less honourable we bestow the greater honour, and our unpresentable parts are treated with greater modesty, 24 which our more presentable parts do not require. But God has so composed the body, giving greater honour to the part that lacked it, 25 that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another. 26 If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honoured, all rejoice together.
27 Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it. 28 And God has appointed in the church first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healing, helping, administrating, and various kinds of tongues. 29 Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles? 30 Do all possess gifts of healing? Do all speak with tongues? Do all interpret? 31 But earnestly desire the higher gifts.
And I will show you a still more excellent way. (and on to 1 Corinthians 13…)
Loads of wisdom needed. One thing is sure: avocado is not bacon.
Anyway, just a mind-dump before heading out into the Bristol sunshine. JB suspects my week of working inside on Proverbs at his dining table (while the beautiful symmetry of the Royal York Crescent beckoned outside) means I don’t like Bristol much!