My wife and I are huge fans of Survivor. If there are any other fans out there, they will
remember the occasional episode that showcases a certain delicacy by the name of balut. In these episodes, the contestants are asked to compete in a challenge to eat certain items for the chance to win immunity at the next tribal council. If they win, they avoid having their torch snuffed.
Does it seem to you that this shouldn’t be such a difficult task? Before you come to any conclusions, I should explain that balut is a fertilized and developing egg embryo that is boiled and eaten from the shell. In cultures that have always seen this item as a highlight of any meal, there’s nothing taboo about it. However, in cultures such as ours, it is hard for the vast majority to stomach. There is no market for that item or any interest whatsoever in eating the product because there is a cultural predisposition in our community against this kind of food.
Can you imagine, then, if someone like Wolfgang Puck spent his career, not creating phenomenal dishes which have gotten him famous, but instead, spent all of his effort fighting against the spread of balut in this country? What if he closed all of his restaurants and petitioned that no McDonalds, Burger King, or Wendy’s in the United States ever sell balut? Do you believe it would be a great waste of potential? You may ask, “Why does he fight against something that everyone in his community finds revolting?”
This reminds me of Scriptures like the parable of the talents (Matthew 25:14-30). Just as a slave was entrusted with talents to build wealth for his master but wasted them, our illustration has a great chef who has been given great gifts and instead of using them to build-up the culinary world, he wastes them by fighting against non-threats. Any superior that Puck might have could ask him what he’s accomplishing in the culinary world just to find out that he’s been focusing on misplaced fears.
There are times that the Church can find itself in similar predicaments. That’s not quite a surprise when Jesus Christ provided this parable of the talents to His followers. He knew that it may be a temptation for them to fall into this thinking. So how might we take His words and this story to heart and seek ways to avoid falling into the trap that it warns against?
One application which parallels this biblical teaching and the balut illustration is the way in which we might be tempted to engage with social issues. It can be very tempting, at times, to look at sins from other communities and spend all of our time focusing on them when the people within our own communities aren’t tempted by them at all.
Just like balut, a single church can be full of folks who are all uniformly convinced that abortion is wrong. That church does not have to worry about convincing one another of this fact, then. A single church might be convinced that critical race theory is unbiblical and inconsistent with God’s teaching. That church does not have to worry about convincing one another of that fact either. The recognition of this sin from others distracts them from their own sins which should be repented of.
This, in turn, causes them to drift away from the God they serve. We all can find ourselves pointing out the sins of others while ignoring our own weaknesses, like the one who points out the speck in another’s eye while ignoring the plank in their own (Matthew 7:3-5). It’s part of the human condition. However, we must continue to push against that fleshly temptation. This is why confession of sins is important – it highlights the humility of every believer so that we might not boast in ourselves. It distances the believer from pride which can blind them to the need that they always had for a Savior.
Paul was speaking to the Corinthian church in 1 Corinthians 5 and mentioned the sexual immorality which was ignored, even as they pointed fingers at those outside of the Church for the same immorality. Paul said “I wrote to you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people; I did not at all mean with the sexually immoral people of this world, or with the greedy and swindlers, or with idolaters, for then you would have to leave the world. But actually, I wrote to you not to associate with any so-called brother if he is a sexually immoral person, or a greedy person, or an idolater, or is verbally abusive, or habitually drunk, or a swindler…”. He then says “For what business of mine is it to judge outsiders? Do you not judge those who are within the church?”
There is, of course, an awareness of the sins that are outside of our community. But there should not be an obsession with the sins of those around us. There should, instead, be a focus on addressing the sins within our own hearts. We testify to God’s goodness, not when we point out the sin of others while we stagnate in our own. We testify to His goodness when we live separately from the ways of the flesh (2 Corinthians 10:3), including the tendency to overlook our own brokenness and need for the Savior we claim. We can show the world that we dispel darkness through the light of God’s forgiveness, grace, and love. Let’s not idolize our brand of morality, or thinking, or living by making that the highest good. Instead, let’s make God, Himself, what we seek and what we present to the world
Love you all,
Young Adult Minister – Evan McNeff