Hershey’s has been around for a very long time and it has become very popular in the United States. However, to many in other cultures, it has no appeal. Why would that be? What if you were told that it reminded them of baby vomit – would you believe it?
In 1893, Milton Hershey visited the Chicago World’s Fair and stumbled across delicious German chocolate and determined to add it to his collection of previously chocolate-less sweets. However, he couldn’t reproduce it with the same processes that they utilized in Europe. The New York Times reports that “experts speculate that Hershey’s puts its milk through controlled lipolysis, a process by which the fatty acids in the milk begin to break down.” Do you have any idea what that means? I didn’t, but apparently, it creates butyric acid which can also be found in Parmesan cheese and babies’ spit-up. Have you noticed any tanginess in Hershey’s that is not present in chocolate from other parts of the world? Well, as the great Bill Engvall puts it, “here’s your sign.”
Why would Milton do such a thing? One great reason is because his product could remain on shelves for up to a year. Now, we Americans think this is the way chocolate should taste. Other companies actually add butyric acid in order to appeal to American consumers. For these reasons, it could be said we, Americans, return to our vomit – at least when chocolate is involved.
In the Scriptures, Proverbs 26:11 states “Like a dog that returns to its vomit, so is a fool who repeats his foolishness.” There are numerous general applications with this biblical proverb, but there is also one specific application which has rang true throughout time and is firmly in place in our churches today. How so? Legalism.
Before anyone checks out because they likely believe themselves to be immune to legalism (no one actually believes they fall prey to legalism), we want to recognize that it takes shape when someone believes that something other than Christ’s death and resurrection can make them right in God’s eyes. But how do we do that today?
Well, we do that when we place any law, regulation, moral, mission, or expectation higher than Christ would. He says in Matthew 22:37-40 that, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the great and foremost commandment. The second is like it, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ Upon these two commandments hang the whole Law and the Prophets.”
That does not mean that the Law and Prophets are not valuable. It does not mean that biblical morality is not valuable. But it does mean that all the Law, Prophets, our own laws, regulations, morals, missions, and expectations of others should not be the measure of a person’s value or God’s desire that they be redeemed and saved.
There is a false Gospel that has clung to Christianity since the days of Galatians 2:14 when Paul confronted Peter – “If you, being a Jew, live like the Gentiles and not like the Jews, how is it that you compel the Gentiles to live like Jews?” (or Judaize). When Peter was not “straightforward about the truth of the Gospel,” he was adding to Christ’s sacrifice in order to make someone acceptable, but that is false. There are calls for folks to adhere to either political party’s stance, certain standards of living, or certain worldviews in order to be seen as loved by God, but these additions to the Gospel are like butyric acid to chocolate – they distract from the purity of the original, no matter how much it has become accepted.
Should we be moral? Certainly, out of gratitude for what God has done. Should we advocate for morality and justice and righteousness in our world? Without a doubt, but not because it makes someone acceptable in our group, but because it shows the character and heart of God. But one thing we must recognize as a false Gospel is that those things that point to God’s goodness are not the Gospel and they must not be weaponized against others. This breaks God’s heart and we must remove it as a tool of idolatry in our hearts in order to walk more closely with our God.
Love you all,
Young Adult Minister – Evan McNeff