Yesterday I went to a life and science museum with my two granddaughters, L.E. and McRae. It’s a pretty fun place. It has one of the fastest kids’ trains I’ve ever been on. You can tell that the engineer wishes that he were operating a roller coaster, although it was a bit slower than last year. I imagine some parent complained because their less than wild-at-heart kid got scared.
This museum has a lot of outdoor stuff; things you beat on with sticks, like chimes, drums, bells, and other objects, water sprays that you operate yourself with pumps, an area of farm animals, a train caboose that you can climb around in. It also has a butterfly house where you can watch moths and butterflies come out of cocoons, and at 11:00 am they release them into the house, after a staff describes each one to you. There is something magical about watching a butterfly on its first flight. In the main building there’s a space and astronaut area, a big sound room with floor pads and motion sensors that activate all sorts of rhythms when you move. It’s fun watching adults jump around and run in ways they would never do in public.
L.E. is fascinated with weather, especially tornadoes and hurricanes, and there is a weather area that has one spot that uses a vapor mist and fan currents to simulate a tornado right before your eyes. You can even stick your hand in it. We got some great pictures there with L.E., like a giant, standing beside a tornado.
The dominant theme of the museum is learning. The dominant method is experience. Everywhere you turn you are invited to hold something, build something, examine something with a magnifying glass, roll something, beat something, turn something, jump on something, touch something. And my granddaughters love it. It’s a must trip on every visit. I love it. I’m usually the last to leave the exhibit. I was just getting my groove on with the steel drums when they were ready to go to the next thing.
What a lesson for those who follow Jesus. The most compelling thing we have to offer anyone is an invitation, an invitation to experience Jesus, an invitation to experience God. We act as if the most important thing we have to offer is an argument – an argument about why they should believe everything we think there is to believe about God, an argument against whatever they might believe. We may also tend to think that the most important thing we have to offer is a correction, a correction to their bad behavior and lifestyle.
I really appreciate Psalm 34:8 because it is an invitation: “Taste and see that the Lord is good.” Later in the NT, Peter uses that phrase to describe what it means to have become a Christian. (1 Peter 2:3 – an invitation to hunger even more for God, his word).
I hate to think of how many people I have pre-judged to be beyond experiencing God because they don’t believe the right things, or don’t behave the right way. How can they believe the right things if they haven’t tasted? Then I think of how many people have the right beliefs but they have never tasted God. They fill our churches. They may be some of us. Toxic faith – the right beliefs, even some right behavior – but no right experience.
My goal is to invite people to taste God, starting wherever they are, with whatever faith or curiosity, or more likely a need they have. God is a lot more explainable when people experience him.
Practical Application: The next time someone shares a need with you, it may be an opportunity for you to invite them to taste God. Without being sanctimonious, consider inviting them to seek God’s help with that need. You might suggest that they ask God to help them with that. Or, you might tell them that you would be glad to pray for that. If you are nervous about messing something like that up, you’ll do fine -you will not come off in a Church-Lady way.