Cheddar Cheese Christians
The rhythmic sound of the railroad and the sway of the ancient rail car had not surprisingly put me to sleep. I was absolutely wiped out. By now it had been over thirty hours since I had crawled out of my warm bed on the other side of the world. I was experiencing first hand what that movie title went by–“Planes, Trains, and Automobiles.”
Five very short-term missionary evangelists were on their way to Poland via Canada and Germany. What a thrill to be on the move, propelled by a Holy Spirit challenge to encourage the saints in Poland. The thrill of meeting and ministering to new, hungry saints and young churches has always been enough to get my spiritual motor running. I may have been wiped out physically, but I was, at the same time, charged in my spirit.
Arriving in Frankfurt, Germany, we had managed to make our way to the train station by the city bus system. Then, relying on one of “God’s angels” to interpret for us, we finally managed to find the right train. I would give five hundred bucks for a video of us five “semi-nervous and anxious to get to our destination” part time missionaries, getting on the train when we pulled into the station.
You must understand, getting on a plane or a train in Europe is nothing like it is in the States, nor is it like the movies that the perfect European vacation depicts it to be. No casually finding your “state room”, or a seat with your name on it. Only in your dreams, Buster!
When the train pulled into the station, I thought we were having a re-enactment of the 1940’s movie. Then it seemed like someone yelled “action”, and the entire mass of humanity on the platform attacked the waiting train cars.
What a rush! Suitcases in each hand, pushing and shoving our way up into the waiting car. No kind and smiling porter reaching for our bags. No “May I help you, Sir. This way to your cabin.” No, it was every man for himself!
By some miracle of angelic intervention, we were able to find five seats in the same compartment. Crowded together with seven strangers, we settled in like crows on a fence. Coming out of my fitful sleep, I sat listening to the sound of the train wheels and the chatter of the seven strangers. It was then that I smelled food.
Curiously, I opened one eye to see where the familiar scent of cheese and bread was coming from. I discovered it was the seven strangers. Everyone had mysteriously produced bread and cheese and something to drink. Then it hit me like a ton of bricks. We had brought nothing for us to eat! My memories of the rest of that train trip were that of watching those natives eat their cheese and wishing I could find a McDonald’s on the train.
This old flashback came to me this week when the Spirit of God whispered to me the phrase—“cheddar cheese Christians”.
“Holy Spirit,” I responded, “what do you mean, ‘cheddar cheese Christians’?”
“George,” He said. (He doesn’t call me pastor for some curious reason.) “I want to talk to you about the maturing Christian, the one who is growing toward the place that God has called them to.”
Having my complete attention, He continued, “Some Christians are nothing but sour cream, while others are like cottage cheese. They are started on their way, but not nearly there yet.”
As the Holy Spirit was speaking to me, I couldn’t help but think of one of my favorite snacks–triscuits and Tillamook cheddar cheese. The slice of cheese has to be just the right thickness–not too thin and not too thick. Then the triscuit has to have the salt side down, so when it is placed on the tongue, you have the sensation of salt and cheese exploding in your mouth together. It really is a marvelous experience.
Coming back to my senses, the Holy Spirit continued. “George, just like good cheese takes time to mature, and the longer it matures the better the flavor, so is the Christian believer. So many of God’s people want to have a mature character and a seasoned ministry without allowing the time it takes to produce it.”
Realizing the Holy Spirit was giving me an illustration in Biblical wisdom, I asked, “Is this the reason then, that some believers seem to have the right look and even powerful giftings, yet when you sample their life, something doesn’t taste right?”
“Exactly”, the Spirit exclaimed. “You can’t rush a masterpiece, nor the seasons of a developing oak tree. Each of them must be allowed to develop until the proper time. Then and only then, can the reward and blessing of their beauty and strength be enjoyed.”
Not wanting to miss any of the Holy Spirit’s message to me, I asked, “What about the sour cream and the cottage cheese Christians? Isn’t there a place for them in the body?”
Gently the Spirit took me back again to Mark, the fourth chapter. “Remember how Jesus taught about the development of the seed?”
“Yes,” I answered. “In the twenty-eighth verse, He said ‘First there was the blade, then the head, then the mature grain in the head.”
“Right! And each of them represents different stages of growth. But did you know, George,” the Spirit continued, “that each of these stages of the seed can be and is used at times for other things? Many times the farmer will be impatient and allow the cattle to come in and eat the young tender blade of grain. When that happens, of course, the life and value of that seed has ended. What could have been, will never be.”
“But how does this relate to the Christian and their growth in Christ?” I asked.
“In every kitchen, there is a need at sometime for sour cream and cottage cheese. So it is in the kingdom. Every person has something to contribute in each stage of his development. And unlike the blade of grass, when the ‘sour cream Christian’ is used in one of God’s recipes, he can still go on into his maturity and calling. The tragedy comes, however, when the ‘cottage cheese crowd’ decides to pass themselves off as ‘cheddar’ without taking the time to season.”
“So what is the message that I should tell the people?” I asked.
“First of all, if you’re in a ‘sour cream’ stage of life, don’t panic. Keep your eye on the will of God for your maturity.
“Secondly, even if you’re not to that perfect place in God, your ‘sour cream’ still has a place in the kitchen.
“Thirdly, if it says ‘cheddar’ on your label, just make sure you’ve given the time to have ‘cheddar’ on the inside.”
by Apostle/Pastor Watkins
Cracker and Cheese Expert!