Saturday, December 18, 2010

This lemon isn't a "lemon!"

5:33 p.m. Today's project was to make my second variety of Christmas cookies, Lemon Squares. These popular dessert bars are super tangy and sweet, made with fresh lemons from our tree for the top clear custard layer, and lots of powdered sugar for the topping and in the crust layer.

Steve picked lemons for me yesterday in the drizzle, and brought the above-pictured oddity in with the normal ones. From one angle, it looks like a lumpy cat going forward; from the other, like a Grimm's fairy tale monster or gargoyle sticking its tongue out at you! Our daughter found it so hideous that she had to hide it covered in the kitchen compost container. For her, this fruit is the stuff of nightmares--for me, this growth of several fruits together is "a real lemon!"
Something just didn't work, and the normal, smooth-skinned globe we expected to harvest didn't materialize. Or God has a sense of humor! I think it's in the category of "so ugly it's cute," like the Ugliest Dog contest you can watch on Animal Planet. So I rescued it and have it here on my office desk where I can see it and chuckle.
One thing I noticed is that it smells sweet and sour, just lovely, every bit the same as a regular lemon. I imagine that if I had the heart to cut it, the inside would taste like a lemon-or lemons--as well. But it's just too much of a novelty to dissect!
Think about the way we look at one another: we look at the outside, because that's all we have access to upon first meeting. If a newcomer "fits the mold" of average height, width, clothing style and speech pattern, we comfortably add them to our group. If they're a little quirky or not that attractive, or of a different cultural background, they're still all right, because they'll probably add a little "flavor" to the gathering. But if they are extremely different culturally, or are disabled, things are awkward until we politely recover ourselves and treat them with solicitousness, so as not to be seen as exclusive or snobbish.
The problem is with us, not the "different" one! We all want to be the perfect "lemon-shaped" lemon, and not stand out at all, but that's not God's plan! He made us all different on the outside; and where it counts, on the inside. In I Samuel 16, God sends the prophet Samuel to find a replacement for the failed Saul, Israel's first king. After passing up all of Jesse's older sons, God picks David the youngest, telling Samuel in verse 7,
The LORD sees not as man sees; for man looks on the outward appearance, but the LORD looks on the heart.
Haven't you found that the most precious, loving people you've had the privilege to know are actually nothing like you? And that the only reason you even noticed them, met them and talked with them was because you both love Jesus and met at a Bible study or at church?
That seems to me to be God's plan in building up His church! It's not our surface commonalities that draw us to one another in the deepest way, so that we can serve one another by the power of the Holy Spirit; it's peoople with Jesus at the center of their lives, having all the things that matter, such as faith and the promise of eternal life, in common!
And yes, even though Ephesians 4:6 tells us there is "One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all;" verse 7 maintains our individuality: "But to every one of us is given grace according to the measure of the gift of Christ." and the Apostle Paul goes on to describe the many kinds of gifts found in the Body of Christ, for the mutual benefit of all of us.
God wants us to be together, to be unified, for our own good. Look again at that lemon, which is really a number of lemons that grew together, and consider Ephesians 4:16, NLT:
God makes the whole body fit together perfectly. As each part does its own special work, it helps the other parts grow, so that the whole body is healthy and growing and full of love.
That lemon isn't such a "lemon" any more, is it?

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