Having kids makes for a unique outlook on life. In fact, I think they help us appreciate things so much more. Recently I’ve begun to realize just how stubborn we grown-ups can be thanks to my own kids and food. In my family we basically have a rotation of about four meals consisting of fast food (it comes with the job), pasta, tacos and something that could be cooked out on the grill. Depending on the season I will even venture out with some new recipe I found on Pinterest (yes, I do Pinterest) to see what will hit or miss…and most of the time it is a miss. “I don’t like it.” “But you haven’t even tried it…” “I don’t like it.” It’s almost like it’s a pre-programmed response to anything that is offered that doesn’t fit the pasta, taco, burger, pizza paradigm. They are so adverse to trying new things. And this is crazy to me because as short of a life span as they’ve lived, there is still so much that is new to try. Luckily my older kids sometimes help apply the pressure to try something.
So as my brain works, I think about what this means as we grow older. We multiply that same scenario/scope of operation by our age and all of a sudden the, “I don’t like it” response becomes even more powerful and dangerous. Now we have experienced more that this life has to offer. We have encountered more than just new foods. We have come across new people, new cultures, new philosophies, new political ideas and then when all of a sudden something new comes our way yet again and all of a sudden we can simply say, “I don’t like it”. We stubbornly continue to be the same person we’ve always been. And yet, this year, one of our Advent passages speaks directly to this. The passage opens up with John the Baptist addressing the crowds coming to see him at the Jordan. This is how he greets them, “John said to the crowds that came out to be baptized by him, “You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Bear fruits worthy of repentance.” – Luke 3:7-8 [Calling people snakes is a great way to win over a crowd by the way]
So let’s piece this together a bit. John greets all of these folks coming to him by referencing the idea of snakes fleeing from flames as them turning from God’s wrath and he says to them to “bear fruit worthy of repentance”. The Greek word for repentance here is Metanoia, which simply translates “changed mind”. Fruit that reflects a changed mind. John then goes on to define it for the crowd; give to those who need, don’t rob each other, don’t abuse your power, etc. In other words, view each other and your circumstances with an ever-repentant, ever-changing mind as to your normal way of thinking. Minds that are inflexible and set in their ways can’t be used of God. God is unpredictable. His very name giving in Exodus 3 says this [I will be what I will be]. Those who follow God must become like Him. Therefore for us to simply encounter someone, something, some scenario and declare “I don’t like it”, before we’ve allowed God to work through us and in us towards said circumstance is the opposite of repentance. And thus we become a brood of vipers. Maybe this Advent season we try to avoid being casts as snakes as we attempt to casts the situations around us with a different mind. And perhaps through repentance worthy fruit the Church may once again be all that God has called Her to be.