Bible reading, Biblical Living, Foundations

The Joys of Chorizo

What a strange and unexpected time this is.  Only three weeks ago I was keeping track of the news on Coronavirus around the world but thinking at that stage, “I don’t imagine it will affect us personally too much.”  Oh, how wrong I was!  Here I am, in our spare room having nearly completed nine days of working from home with who knows how many more to go, and that in itself being the most minor of consequences.  I sometimes still have to remind myself that I’m not just watching an episode of 24.  If only Jack Bauer were real, he would have sorted it all out weeks ago, single-handedly, probably having died at least once along the way.

This is clearly a challenging time for us all.  How are we going to get through it? I doubt the British stoic stiff upper-lip attitude will suffice in the end.

So how will we get through it? Well, here’s one thing that will help; Colossians 3:16.  It says, “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly”.

I’m sure like many of us, I’ve been reading my Bible this week.  As I’ve done so, I’ve found it coming to life in fresh ways.  As we’re facing such uncertainty in so many areas of life it is so helpful to read that our hope is not based in the things of this world but in the eternally unchanging God of all grace.  As we realise how little control we really have over our lives it is so good to be reminded that our Father has control over all things and that his plan to unite all things in Christ is still on.

It shouldn’t be a surprise that the Bible comes to life in hard times because most of it was written into hard times; people facing tribulation, distress, persecution, famine, nakedness, danger or swords, for example.

So, at this time, let me, along with the Apostle Paul, encourage you to let the word of Christ dwell in you richly.

Let’s break it down a bit.

If you’re going to be shaped by someone’s words, it’s wise to consider whose words you’re going to be shaped by.  This verse tells us to be shaped by the word (and words) of Christ.  There are no better words to be shaped by.  In a time of uncertainty, we need to be shaped by truth and life.  In a time of fear, we need to be shaped by hope and joy.  That’s why we must be shaped by the word of Christ.  His word(s) will always be full of truth, life, hope and joy because ‘out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks’ (Matt 12:35).

So, what do we do with the word of Christ?  This verse says we let it dwell in us.  I like the word ‘dwell’, it implies something being at home, something taking up residence, putting its feet up, being familiar with its surroundings.  Does the word of Christ dwell in you in this way, or is it an occasional visitor who feels a bit awkward?  At this time, let’s be those in whom the word of Christ makes its home.

But the verse goes further than that, it’s not just that the word of Christ should dwell in you, but that it should dwell in you richly, bringing life and colour, depth and flavour.  How does this happen?  Well, not with a quick skim-read to tick a spiritual box but rather by meditating on the word of God.  By taking our time to read a passage and then giving it more time to think and chew over, again and again.  Think of it like chorizo, the more you chew it, the more flavour comes out.  I have a lot of time for chorizo in my life.  Unlike celery which to me just tastes like wet, stringy dirt whenever I have the misfortune to eat it.  Which is not often as I avoid eating wet, stringy dirt in any form as a general rule for life.  If I ever do have to eat celery, I try to eat it as quickly as possible, chewing it just enough so I don’t choke on it.  Think of the word of God as chorizo, not celery.  Keep chewing it over again and again and let the goodness and flavour permeate your life.

This practice is just one of the spiritual disciplines that have sustained the people of God for literally millennia in all sorts of circumstances.  They are tried and tested and will sustain us too.  So, let me encourage you at this time to pray, worship, take communion and let the word of Christ dwell in you richly.

Paul Harrison

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