I do not **heart** sweet potatoes!
We all have things that are distasteful to us. We avoid them like the plague. It is a form of self-preservation I suppose. My aversion to baked sweet potatoes is strong and I can't seem to find any way through the struggle to eat these ghastly things. Many have praised the health benefits of sweet potatos and have tried to offer 'dressed up' recipes to me in hopes I could enjoy them. Knowing something is good for you and following through to eat it is two entirely different things.
God's word, at least for me, contains sweet potatoes. There are passages and themes that I dislike and have in the past tried to avoid. I tried to 'dress them up' and offer them to congregations without effect. Pastoral ministry is a joy except when it is not. I love to teach and preach about Jesus Christ and His love. I encourage congregations about God's grace and mercy. These are words that God places on my heart to provide truth and hope. And then come the sweet potato scriptures that I dislike.
Scriptures that instruct about God's just-ness and dislike of sin are necessary but not easily digested. These truths dig deeply into our hearts and require introspection of our motives and actions. They taste like candied, marsh-mallowed, brown-sugared sweet potatoes. Yuck!
This past Sunday was a sweet potato kind of day, because the text was speaking about injustice and oppression. The narrative described people of status taking advantage of those lower on the scale of importance. It spoke of leadership holding people accountable for ill-driven motives. It spoke of the need for repentance by the oppressors and retribution to the oppressed. It spoke of repentance and forgiveness offerings. It was/is a good word for us even though it is distasteful.
If I chose to use only the scriptures that make me feel good about myself, I would be utilizing half of the Gospel. It would be out of balance. God is good! God is also just. and so, therein lies our struggle. We must approach the goodness (grace) of God with a repentant heart and receive tender mercies. It is incumbent upon us to then extend the same godly goodness and justness to folks around us. The scripture below from Jeremiah is one that follows me wherever I go because God's call on my life often contains sweet potatoes. Verse 7b gives me purpose and resolve to preach the entire Gospel. "You must go to everyone I send you to and say whatever I command you." (Jeremiah 1:7b, NIV)
Jer 1:4 The word of the LORD came to me, saying, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before
you were born I set you apart;I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.” “Ah, Sovereign LORD,” I said,
“I do not know how to speak; I am only a child.” But the LORD said to me, “Do not say, ‘I am only a child.’
You must go to everyone I send you to and say whatever I command you. Do not be afraid of them, for I
am with you and will rescue you,” declares the LORD. Then the LORD reached out his hand and touched
my mouth and said to me, “Now, I have put my words in your mouth. See, today I appoint you over
nations and kingdoms to uproot and tear down, to destroy and overthrow, to build and to plant.”
(Jeremiah 1:4-10, NIV)
PS: Ironically, I can eat sweet potatoes as long as they are raw.