Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Sweet Tea - Part 1 - Our identity in Christ

I was eight years old when I first drank tea. My family had just moved to England, and the one thing I had not been looking forward to was tea time! I thought "tea time" meant that you had to drink tea, and I couldn't stand the thought of it. Well, it turned out that at tea time, tea was usually offered, but you didn't have to drink it. Whew...

However, at one time or another during our early months there, someone coaxed me into trying tea. I think I tried "straight" tea first, and I hated it, but then I was introduced for the first time to tea with milk and sugar! Mmmmmmmmmm! I was hooked.

Four years later we moved back to the U.S. and I continued to drink tea for a while, but it eventually turned into a "once in a while" thing. I did, however, find out about iced tea! I looove sweet iced tea. My mom would often make the kind that you place in jars and set out in the sun all day.

I bring all this up because there's a chapter in Steve McVey's "Grace Rules" book (the follow up to Grace Walk) called "The Nectar of Heaven." In this chapter, Steve gives the recipe for real southern Sweet Tea. In short, the key to making sweet tea is to boil the water, place the tea bags in it, and while the water is still very hot, mix in the sugar and stir. You don't wait till the tea is cold. Have you ever tried unsweetened iced tea? Blehh. Have you ever tried to sweeten it by adding sugar to your cold iced tea? It's a little better... BUT... as Steve says, "I like sweet tea but I don't like tea with sugar in it." Have you ever noticed that the sugar never gets fully dissolved into the drink? You end up with clumps of sugar at the bottom of your glass.

If you add the sugar while it's still very hot, the water, tea and sugar become one! You can never separate them again. I believe this is the same as our union with Christ. 1 Cor 6:17 says that "he who is joined to the Lord is one spirit with Him." I also believe this is true of our union with each other. Rom 12:5 and Eph 4:25 tell us that we're members of His body and individually members of one another. We may not act like this is the truth all the time, but yet we are an inseparable body. As we grow in our understanding of this - our union with God and our union with each other - we will much more naturally begin to behave like it.

I'll never think of Sweet Tea the same way again! Since first reading Steve's recipe for real sweet tea a few years back, I've not been able to enjoy "tea with sugar in it" nearly as much as I used to. :) This illustration has helped me tremendously to understand my union with God. I mess up at times and I say and do some foolish things. But the thing that keeps me walking the "grace walk" is the knowledge of the truth that no matter what, God has joined Himself to me, inseparably. He is in me and I am in Him. I'm not simply living in a glass that has tea with sugar floating around in it. We've become one, and the life I live is a life that's lived from that state of being.

Coming... Sweet Tea - Part 2 - Our growth in Christ

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