Have you lost your taste ... for God?
While symptoms from the coronavirus are wide ranging, time and time again one symptom seems to surface: loss of taste. Friends have testified to dipping crisp, tortilla chips into spicy Tex-Mex salsa and not being able to taste a thing.
Praise God, all of my friends thus far have weathered the coronavirus without stepping foot into a hospital. Their sense of taste and smell and respiratory systems all eventually returned to pre-virus condition. I know for many, including a Houston police officer who grew up with a friend from my church, the same cannot be said. Sergeant Hito Bazan has been in the ICU for nearly two months on a ventilator, but is slowly making progress. His health is ultimately in God’s hands, and my church and many others are petitioning the throne of grace on his behalf.
We are asking to taste and see God’s goodness, even in the trial.
"Taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the one who takes refuge in Him!" (Psalm 34:8).
Followers of Jesus believe that God is good all the time, even when a pandemic hits or a personal tragedy occurs. Circumstance does not change God's character.
God's goodness is in His very presence. He is Immanuel - God with us, a refuge for all who come to Him, an ever present help in times of trouble, a Savior who will never leave us or forsake us, who is near the broken hearted, who took on all our brokenness at the cross (Psalm 46:1, Deuteronomy 31:6, Hebrews 13:5, Psalm 34:18, I Peter 2:24).
Sin steals our taste for godliness
While not all of us will be physically affected by the coronavirus, every one of us has been spiritually affected by the virus of sin. The brokenness of the world crept into our DNA at the moment of conception because of the Fall (Genesis 3).
The Bible is clear about our short comings, the sins that steal our taste for godliness.
Even a “good person” cannot stand before a holy God or feast on the things of God.
Common grace lends crumbs to mankind, but these crumbs are stale and temporary imitations of God's saving and eternal grace.
"For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust" (Matthew 5:45).
Sin doesn’t just make us spiritually sick, though. It makes us spiritually dead.
“You were dead in your trespasses …” (Colossians 2:13).
A dead person can’t taste or see or experience any of physical life. Likewise, when we are spiritually dead because of sin, we cannot taste the things of God. The virus of sin killed our ability to sense the Spirit. Unbelievers cannot savor the revelation of God or the gifts of God, because they are spiritually dead.
“The person without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God but considers them foolishness, and cannot understand them because they are discerned only through the Spirit” (I Corinthians 2:14).
Without the eyes of God, we cannot taste the things of God. Only God can bring sight to the blind and taste to the dead. Yet without faith, a miracle might seem bland. Providence presents as coincidence. Tragedy is not a light and momentary affliction preparing for us an eternal weight of glory but a catastrophe that aims to cannibalize our souls (2 Corinthians 4:17).
Salvation lets us taste and see God's goodness
But just as doctors, nurses and medical professionals put their lives on the line to save the sick, God sent Jesus to save us from our sins and make us alive again in Him.
“While we were still sinners, Christ died for us!” is the most shocking news you’ll ever hear (Romans 5:8). We did nothing to earn it, yet God offers us an invitation to dine with Him “face to face” (I Corinthians 13:12).
God doesn’t want to withhold His goodness from us. He has invited us to the feast to experience Him, today and every day.
Those who are in Christ can come into the great banquet of heaven to taste and see God’s goodness, without ration or limitation.
Consider the parable Jesus told to a group of religious leaders while dining in one of their homes:
“A certain man was preparing a great banquet and invited many guests. At the time of the banquet he sent his servant to tell those who had been invited, ‘Come, for everything is now ready.’
“But they all began to make excuses. The first said, ‘I have just bought a field, and I must go and see it. Please excuse me.’
“Another said, ‘I have just bought five yoke of oxen, and I’m on my way to try them out. Please excuse me.’
“Still another said, ‘I just got married, so I can’t come.’
“The servant came back and reported this to his master. Then the owner of the house became angry and ordered his servant, ‘Go out quickly into the streets and alleys of the town and bring in the poor, the crippled, the blind and the lame.’
“‘Sir,’ the servant said, ‘what you ordered has been done, but there is still room.’
“Then the master told his servant, ‘Go out to the roads and country lanes and compel them to come in, so that my house will be full. I tell you, not one of those who were invited will get a taste of my banquet’” (Luke 14:15-23).
The God of Heaven, our Master, has given us an invitation to experience Him.
God gives this invitation because He loves us. This unconditional love has nothing to do with merit, religion or good works. Our past is not relevant. In fact, this love invitation is given knowing that some will reject it and some will accept it, but not a single one of us deserves it. This invitation to salvation - to the great feast - is given by grace and can only be accepted by faith in Jesus (Ephesians 2:8-9).
It is never too early or too late to taste and see that the Lord is good.
I recall as a teenager thinking I would get more serious about my faith, my Bible study, and my obedience to God when I was a little older. But I didn't truly understand what I was deferring, or I would have never deferred it. Instead of tasting and seeing that God was good, I often gagged on my own disobedience.
Sin will never satisfy us.
New heart, new cravings
Once we are redeemed and made new by grace through faith in Jesus, our tastes are transformed. Sin no longer seems satisfying. Our cravings change when the Spirit of God indwells us. When we eat from His daily bread and drink from His living water, we are filled and deeply satisfied. Our spiritual palate never fatigues from God’s truth, comfort and mercy found in the Bible, prayer and through His Holy Spirit. The wisdom of God's Word grows in depth and flavor as it renews our minds.
And once we've tasted of His goodness, there is no turning back to the scraps of sinful living.
"Taste and see that the Lord is good!” is a personal invitation to experience God at work in your life, for the rest of your life. It's an invitation to transformation that can only be achieved by God.
Just as God has given us several thousand taste buds on our tongues to experience all kinds of gastronomic delights, He gives us thousands of opportunities and avenues to experience Him in unique and tangible ways.
God gives us the abundant life through Jesus, not a strict and narrow diet of drudge and duty (John 10:10b).
God wants us to taste and see His goodness, so that we can more fully experience Him, worship Him, be transformed by Him and glorify Him. As we delight in food, we can delight in His Word. We can delight in spending time in prayer with Him. We can delight in the quickening of His Spirit as He leads us. We can delight in how He strengthens, nourishes and satisfies us as He reveals Himself to us.
Don’t lose your taste for the things of God by neglecting to meet with God, to feast with Him and be filled by His provision. Don't be like the guests invited to the great feast, or the stubborn teenage girl, who were all too busy to dine with the king.
Let us make time daily to discover and devour God's Word, and watch it become our “joy and heart’s delight” (Jeremiah 15:16).
“Open your mouth and taste, open your eyes and see— how good God is. Blessed are you who run to him” (Psalm 34:8, MSG).