Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Yogurt Evangelism

A couple of years ago a friend of mine told me how to make my own yogurt. I don’t know how many people I’ve shared the recipe with. People are always amazed at how easy it is to make, and marvel at the process and the finished product. Even busy people can find time to make it, and while they may be skeptical at first, they all become believers once they try it.

I sometimes feel as though I’ve become something of a yogurt evangelist, telling others the good news that yogurt can be made easily and inexpensively. My experience with yogurt bears much similarity to the way I believe our faith is spread to others.

First of all, it’s based on personal experience. While we’ve all heard stories of mass conversions at conferences and revivals, I often wonder how well such conversions actually stick once the euphoria of the mountaintop is gone, and life returns to the nitty-gritty valley. I might have found the directions for making yogurt online, but without someone else’s personal experience to back it up, I likely would not have tried it. While the energy of a large group might propel me to try something new, let me get away from that setting and doubts and insecurities may creep in and prevent me from doing what I intended to do. But let me see the spark in another’s eyes, someone I know and respect, and I am more likely to follow through on my intentions, especially knowing that I can call that person for help when my enthusiasm wanes or I doubt my ability to persevere.

Second, it doesn’t require any fancy equipment or training. Making yogurt at home requires only a crock pot. Sharing your faith with others only requires that you tell what you know. You don’t need a tract or a script, you only need relationships—a relationship with God and a relationship with another person. But while that sounds simple, it isn’t easy to build authentic relationship with God or with others. Both take time and attention, the willingness and ability to listen, and the desire to put the relationship ahead of your own agenda. Making yogurt is simple, but it does require time and attention. Like relationships, it isn’t an instant process. In both relationships and yogurt-making, you must pace yourself. In either case, the process cannot be rushed.

Finally, things will not always go as you hope they will. I’ve had batches of yogurt fail, and I’ve had relationships with others become strained. My relationship with God has times of doubt and uncertainty. When my yogurt fails, I salvage it as best I can, because I don’t want to waste what I’ve worked to make. If I cannot salvage it, I at least try to learn from the failure, so I won’t repeat it. In my relationships with others, I ask forgiveness, I seek to understand where I failed and change, and always, I try to learn from the experience. In my relationship with God, I know that the failure is not God, but me. I ask for forgiveness and accept that I am forgiven and loved.

Making my own yogurt has changed what I spend on groceries because making it at home is more economical than buying it. My relationship with God has changed my life. The time I’ve devoted to developing a relationship with God has helped me to fall in love with God. Being in love with God increases my love for others. As I grow in my love for others, evangelism just naturally happens. 

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