Dear Family of St John’s

I’m sure I have written before about my eldest son’s cooking skills… or lack thereof. He isn’t at all concerned about how anything tastes. If it meets his nutritional needs – enough protein essentially – he’s happy.

He also likes to be as efficient as possible. This means that if he can cook his meals in one pot, all the better. The fewer the dishes, the better. On this, I agree with him. Who has time for washing dishes!?

He has a very poor sense of taste, and smell. And, is happy to eat pretty much the same thing week in and week out. To simplify his life (and annoy his mother, I’m sure) he insists that all herbs and spices are interchangeable, as long as you stick to the same colour. You know how bottles of herbs have a green lid, the spices have an orange lid, cayenne pepper and paprika have red lids?

Well, in his world of cooking, if a recipe calls for ground cumin (orange lid) and you only have nutmeg, or cinnamon, you can just use that. It’s the same colour lid! Rosemary can easily be a substitute for dried parsley and so on. A part of me really hopes that he says this just to exasperate me, but I’m not so sure.

Anyway, this means that his meals are not the most exciting. He tends to cook the same meal, in the same pot every week. Oh yes, he tries to cook once a week – efficiency you know. He doesn’t store his weekly meals in individual containers though, the whole pot goes into the fridge. He’s saving on washing up.

But, he’s decided after a year of living on his own in Potchefstroom, that he needs a bigger pot. His biggest pot isn’t quite big enough for a full week’s meals. And so, he turned to a well-known online shopping site which has a collection point in Potch.

He ordered himself a bigger pot. A MUCH bigger pot. I received a call a couple of weeks ago and heard about this pot. It is big enough to cover all four plates on his stove. It is too big to fit in his fridge. It is big enough for a month’s worth of meals. It is far bigger than he thought.

I really don’t understand why he even brought the pot home from the collection point, it was obviously too big. I also don’t understand how he ordered something that big without realising it. I suspect he just looked for something that seemed bigger, and within the price range he was happy with, and clicked ‘Add to Cart’. He even threw the box away! Now he has to figure out how to return it.

It made me think about how often we are fooled by something that isn’t what it appears to be. A horrible example of this is all the fraudulent bank scams that are taking place. I know of three people who have been scammed out of large amounts of money in the last six weeks by calls or texts that seem legitimate. I received one of these calls a couple of weeks ago, it seemed so real!

We are also confronted with Biblical teaching, faith messages, and influences that might appear to be truth, but are in fact misleading. It’s the wolf in sheep’s clothing scenario. It appears just ‘right enough’ to garner our trust. And, the misleading element is often quite subtle. Sometimes it’s the way in which the message is delivered – with such confidence and charisma, that we are sucked in.

One such teaching that I often come across says that if we are ‘good enough’ then God will bless us – financially, relationally, with good health. If we’re struggling with ill health, or financially, in a relationship… it’s because God is punishing us for not being obedient, for not being good enough.

I hope we all know that this is not how the God we serve, and love, works. This is not accurate teaching. Look at the following from 1 John 4,

“1 Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world…
16 And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them. 17 This is how love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment: in this world we are like Jesus. 18 There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment.”

In essence, God is not about punishment, but about love.

And so, I encourage you, test what you hear and what you are taught, against what the Scriptures tell us about God. And not just against one verse taken out of context, but against the entirety of Scripture. If you’re not sure, come and chat with us.

May we not be fooled and misled by false teaching, but know the love of the One true God.

With love
Your friend and rector,