Sunday, October 17, 2010

A Jell-O Contortionist

Ask any kid about Jell-O, and more than likely, he'll tell you his top two favorites along with some tips about how to best keep those slippery squares from ending up on the floor.

I remember Jell-O as a comfort food my mother made when I was sick. I also recall less-than-patiently making my way down the cafeteria-style line at Piccadilly toward my goal--those crystal goblets piled high with cubes in a rainbow of colors.

My favorite memory, though, is when I found a mail-in offer for plastic "jiggler" molds formed in the shape of eggs. After taping my quarters to a note card and printing my name and address in my best handwriting, I waited. What fun it was to pour liquid Jell-O into those molds and cool them in the refrigerator until they had transformed into eggs that were firm enough to bounce like rubber balls.

More recently, I've experienced the displeasure of Jell-O melting when left at room temperature...and I've watched my husband drink it like Kool-Aid when he was too impatient to wait.

As a liquid or solid, there's no doubt about it--Jell-O is good to eat.

But it's not a good thing to be.

In Jeremiah's day, the Israelites were a fickle people, changing their allegiances from hot to cold in a few minutes' time.

After Jeremiah finished prophesying all that the Lord commanded him to say concerning Israel's certain impending destruction if it did not repent, "the priests, the prophets and all the people seized him and said, 'You must die!'" (Jer. 26:8).

Talk about a tough crowd. Don't like the message--dispose of the messenger. When the officials came on the scene, the priests and prophets agreed with the people and asked for Jeremiah's death.

Spirit-filled Jeremiah didn't just lay down and accept this fate. Instead, he spoke forth, reminding the people that his prophecy was from the Lord and, as such, their intended actions would bring harsh consequences: "Be assured, however, that if you put me to death, you will bring the guilt of innocent blood on yourselves and on this city and on those who live in it, for in truth the LORD has sent me to you to speak all these words in your hearing" (v. 15).

I can see the crowd's individual minds reeling--guilt and God's wrath didn't sound too good. True to their Jell-O like character, the very next verse shows the people changed their minds, this time supporting Jeremiah: "Then the officials and all the people said to the priests and the prophets, 'This man should not be sentenced to death! He has spoken to us in the name of the LORD our God.'" (v. 16).

The last verse of this episode reads, "Furthermore, Ahikam son of Shaphan supported Jeremiah, and so he was not handed over to the people to be put to death" (v. 24). I find this interesting since the people had already changed their minds a few verses earlier. Perhaps this implies that had the elders and officials (and an important man named Ahikam) not spoken for Jeremiah that the people could have easily changed their minds again. Perhaps they would have gladly put Jeremiah to death had someone in charge told them "Get 'em boys."

We see this same situation later in the New Testament. One day, the masses of people are praising and worshiping Jesus as their king with shouts of "Hosanna" and waving palm branches...only to reject him later that same day. And crucify him. All because He wasn't the military Messiah they were looking for.

This is not how I want to be. In the heat of the moment, I don't want my convictions to liquefy so that I go along with the crowd. But when things cool off and I'm not facing any trials, I also don't want to be molded into another form that looks like something other than my Jesus.

I think this is why Paul said, "Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will" (Rom 12:2).

To keep from being like Jell-O and conforming into any shape out there, we must be transformed in Christ and constantly "renewing" our minds through the spiritual disciplines.

Not just conformed--transformed.

No comments:

Post a Comment