July 3, 2009
How I Came to Enjoy Raisins
by Shawn McEvoy, Crosswalk.com Senior Editor
Whoever loves his brother lives in the light, and there is nothing in him to make him stumble. -- 1 John 2:10
Worst advertising slogan ever: "Two scoops of raisins in Kellogg's Raisin Bran." Blech. But apparently it worked on my mother, who bought the stuff like it was going out of style, while referring to delicious breakfast desserts such as Lucky Charms and Crunchberries as "cardboard." So unfair. So there I sat, choking down my raisin bran, or even oatmeal cookies with raisins in them, always suffering the same horrible fate: the bran or cookie part would be chewed and swallowed before the gooey chewy raisins, leaving me a mouthful of not-nearly-as-tasty goop.
I despised raisins. Thought about writing Kellogg's and telling them that backing off to one scoop would be plenty (nothing like getting to the bottom of the bowl and finding no flakes, only 10 little black things. Ew).
Flash-forward a quarter century. I'm having a similar issue to the raisin problem with people. Specifically, I'm loathe to admit, some Christian people. No, I haven't been eating them, but sometimes, I do find us hard to swallow. Part of the problem, ironically, is my job! Here at Crosswalk we often receive angry emails from fellow Christians who don't like the movie we reviewed, the way we said something, the ad we ran, or the author we allowed to appear on the site. Criticism's fine, even justified; I just have a hard time when it comes with a "You call yourself Christian?" or a "Have you even read the Bible?" punch to the gut. Sometimes it feels as if we Christians are concerned more with hammering home universal truth no matter how bluntly, or railing against _(fill in the blank)_ than genuinely loving people and meeting needs. Of course, the obvious irony here is that I then, looking in the mirror, find myself in short supply on genuine love myself. Which is not where Christ wants any of us to be. In fact, in Revelation 12:10, the title "Accuser of the Brethren" is given to our enemy Satan at his judgment. Yikes. Do I really want to claim that monicker for myself?
So what does this have to do with raisins? Well, recently I discovered I kinda like the shriveled little things! I pack 'em for snacks, and eat them with the kids. I like the nutritional value, the fiber, the chewiness. What's changed? My tastes? No. The raisins? No. Not the packaging, not the flavor, not even my effort (I'm not choking them down because they're good for me, I genuinely like them). I realized that what has changed is my perspective. It didn't happen overnight, but about the time "Craisins" (dried Cranberries) came on the scene, I began enjoying all sorts of dried fruits. And here's what I noticed: I like cranberries, ergo I like dried cranberries. I like apricots, therefore I like dried apricots. I love grapes, so obviously I... hate raisins? That didn't seem to make logical sense. Maybe it was time to give raisins another try. Maybe I shouldn't even think of them as raisins. Maybe I should just think of them as "dried grapes!"
That may sound extremely silly... but it worked! I felt like I had come into the light. The texture was suddenly different. The way I savored them changed... everything. And a fun new world of food possibilities has re-opened to me, simply thanks to a different way of looking at something.
1 John 2 is all about Light, who it comes from, what it helps us do, and what it shows about us when we walk in it. Light is a perspective-changer. It reveals the true nature of hidden or darkened things. It doesn't change them, but it can and does change how they appear, how they are perceived, and the details we notice. Our verse today says, "Whoever loves his brother lives in the light," and I think it also works backwards: "Whoever lives in the light loves his brother." It's not going to be easy for me to see fellow redeemed sinners - especially the angry ones - as Jesus does, but it's clearly possible, and commanded, and in the raisin example it wasn't about my efforts anyway - just turning on a light.
Intersecting Faith & Life: Who's got your goat? Have you ever tried seeing that individual, group, or faceless internet personage in a different light, from a different perspective, or even as God sees them? Have you considered how you might look different to others in a new light? Try filling these blanks in for yourself: "I like ____(x)_____, therefore I like even __________ _____(x)_____."