I was very pleased one afternoon when I found my wife, Terry, in the beginning stages of making pumpkin pies, which is one of my favorite desserts.
A bowl of fresh pumpkin sat on the counter. A big spoon stuck up in the middle of the soft pumpkin. While her back was turned, I eased over to sneak a sample spoonful, and rushed it into my mouth. But, the taste surprisingly made me gag, and I sped out to the back yard to spit the mush out of my mouth.
“There must be something wrong because that stuff tastes awful.”
“You just had a mouthful of plain pumpkin,” she said. “It did not have the other ingredients added to it. There are other parts to a good pumpkin pie recipe, you know — or evidently, you did not know,” she said wryly.
I have eaten a lot of pumpkin pies during my lifetime, but, for some reason, it never exactly occurred to me that evaporated milk had to be added to make pumpkin taste good. Sugar had to be added to make pumpkin taste good. Nutmeg, eggs and spices had to be added to make pumpkin taste good. These ingredients were necessary and had to be mixed together to fashion an edible and delectable dessert.
I had always perceived that plain pumpkin was basically all that was needed. Plain pumpkin is certainly the main ingredient, but much more is needed to make it flavorful.
Though pumpkin pie is still one of my favorite desserts, I found out that I do not like plain pumpkin. Apparently, no one likes plain pumpkin. But, plain pumpkin teaches us an important spiritual truth.
For example, it is clear from the Old Testament that proper approach to God was necessitated by sacrifice. Blood had to be shed before forgiveness of sin from God and fellowship with God could be received. These were accomplished by way of four sacrifices: the sin offering, the burnt offering, the peace offering and the trespass offering. The basics of each required the sacrifice of lambs, bullocks, and goats.
However, these offerings were not offered plain. They were rather adorned and enhanced with other divinely ordained ingredients. Salt was to be added. Flour, grain and perfume were to be added. Wine was to be added. God evidently expected more than just a plain sacrifice, and stipulated the addition of ingredients which made the proper spiritual combination for a sweet smelling savor pleasing and accepting to the Lord.
By contrast, the thinking of many is that just being saved is all that is necessary. But, the result is a plain pumpkin type of Christian experience. This is manifested in a variety of ways, such as when church worship is viewed as unnecessary. Time and service given to the Lord is not a priority. Spiritual growth is a useless concept. Biblical principles do not direct perspectives, opinions and lifestyles. Conversely, the practice of profanity is legitimized. Drunkenness is justified. Adultery is liberalized. Carnality, in general, is normalized.
But, if the taste of plain pumpkin is enough to make somebody gag, in much the same way it makes God gag at those who hold this kind of plain pumpkin Christianity concept, God disdains plain pumpkin! Using His terminology, He says that if you are going to exhibit such lukewarmness, “I will spew you out of my mouth!”
It is imperative to remember that biblical Christianity insists on the inclusion of other necessary spiritual ingredients. God’s Word says, “Add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge;/And to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness;/And to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity./For if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
If you have never considered the taste of plain pumpkin from God’s perspective, prayerfully it will leave a taste your own mouth to the point of giving you a better understanding of what is truly involved in the making of a true Christian.
The Rev. Ron Branch is pastor of Faith Baptist Church in Mason, W.Va.