A few days back I had my mind changed. Sure, it’s still the same old brain which is phobic in heights and math. But it’s no longer anti-falafel.
A falafel, according to my trusty Wikipedia, is of course “a Middle Eastern dish of spiced mashed chickpeas or other pulses formed into balls or fritters and deep-fried, usually eaten with or in pita bread.” Whole cultures devour them with delight, but until a few days ago I had regarded them with the enthusiasm I used to reserve for leftover lentil loaf–in other words, a dry, tasteless mixture which was no doubt good for one’s health and maybe even one’s character, but could urgently use a hefty dollop of Heinz 57 steak sauce if one could be expected to consume it.
But a few days back, Shelley fixed what I now believe could be called Falafel Supreme. One secret is probably a tahini garlic paste she prepared to go along with it. Within the pita bread half she placed lettuce, a tomato slice, and the falafel “buttered” with that paste.
Several things happened. First, I did not speak, but focused on the taste. Second, though she had fixed me two, I immediately wanted 16 more, and though my capacity would have probably forced me to stop at five, it would be with wild regret.
Third, I was forever changed. When I next am served a falafel, there’s a good chance that it won’t come up to the quality of Shelley’s wonderful mixture. But even so, I will probably approach it with a different mindset than I would have had a week ago. These things can taste good after all, I would say to myself. Maybe I haven’t given them a fair shake.
Recently I heard about a well-known pastor who is hinting to his congregation that Christianity should (in his words) “unhitch” itself from the Old Testament and focus only on the New. After all, isn’t the Old filled with an angry God who permitted and even practiced a whole lot of brutality? And those dry old falafel laws . . . .
It horrifies me to hear that a Christian leader should suggest this. Because for years, I have been reading and preaching through both Testaments in equal measure, and I cannot see the problem. Sure, there are some jolting stories, but there are also descriptions of incredibly rebellious sinners, who flaunted their sins in the face of a loving God who was present in a cloud hovering above family tents on the desert floor in the Sinai peninsula,, and who again and again found Himself forced to some difficult choices, through which He must maneuver while honoring the free choice of his human family.
God is love. He really is. Heaven preserve us from people who would influence us away from parts of Scripture than show us the hardness of human hearts matched with God’s redemptive “whatever it takes” responses.
“Taste and see that the Lord is good,” sings Psalm 34:8. Read your Bible–starting with the stories–end to end, and you’ll see the heart-lifting and mind-expanding encouragement you might be missing.