Tomato theology

Jun 4, 2015 by

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Over the last few weeks I have planted 30 tomato plants in the garden — another important rite of spring, and an increasingly important part of the rhythm of my life. Here in Seattle, we rarely have tomatoes before the end of July, but they are well worth waiting for. You have no idea how much better tomatoes taste straight out of the garden. Ripened in the summer sun, picked at the peak of their flavor, and savored immediately with other fresh salad vegetables.

Vegetables gathered from the garden.

Vegetables gathered from the garden.

I am amazed at how much better all vegetables taste when freshly picked. Kids who never eat their vegetables at home, will stuff themselves with peas, beans, tomatoes and even broccoli florets when they get out in the garden. It’s often the first time they’ve tasted anything the way God intended it to be, not out of the supermarket. And their parents are amazed.

It makes me wonder if part of the reason many of us struggle with what it means to be a Christian is because we get our theology and our Christian discipleship from the supermarket too — picked before it is ripe, stored for months and past its prime. Or, in the case of tomatoes, gassed to make them look ripe and then pumped up with additives to keep them fresh.

What do I mean? Well most of us learn theology by sitting down in chairs and having people yak at us. Or from our Twitter feeds and Facebook pages. This might get some useful information into our heads, but it definitely does not get God’s principles into our hearts — and to be honest I think it is the most boring and uninteresting way to learn anything.

The only way that God’s principles will get into our hearts is by us putting them into practice. As I have said before I learned my theology in the refugee camps in Thailand. And I continue to learn it through interacting with people from other cultures and perspectives. I read somewhere once that the early Christians felt privileged to live in a non-Christian society because they believed it was through their interactions with people outside the faith that they learned more about God.

Now we think we learn best from people who think exactly the same way we do. I suspect that explains why our theological perspectives are often regarded as old, stale and full of superfluous additives — a little like the produce we buy in the supermarket.

What do you think?

Christine Sine is executive director of Mustard Seed Associates, a small organization founded by her and her husband, Tom Sine, to assist churches and Christian organizations to engage the challenges of the 21st century. She writes at God Space, where this post originally appeared.

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