No Taste?

For the last couple of weeks, I’ve been under the weather. For the last few days, the plague that’s befallen me has taken away my ability to taste. Morning coffee, hamburgers, water, and (if I chose to partake) garbage–they all taste the same–like nothing.

God made us with taste buds. Why? Maybe we’ll find out some day. Until then, my hypothesis is He made us with taste because He wants us to experience taste. In His goodness, God let us know that morning coffee, cherry pie, and bacon taste good. Vegetables are terrible. Even if you don’t buy my menu of what tastes good vs. bad, I’d like to know what purpose you think taste serves if not for experience…enjoyment.

Taste is the unsung sense among our five. It’s the one most would agree to part if they had to part with one of their senses. But, I want taste back. I miss it.

Guess what? People taste churches too.

That’s normal, not unspiritual.

They taste greed or pretense, spiritual barrenness or aimlessness. They can taste when God’s presence is there…or a church is Christian in language only.

People who have an opinion about how a church tastes to them are not intrinsically unspiritual. They are human. It’s up to a church to over time to train people not be consumed by their tastes, but it’s unreasonable to say, “everything we serve you ought to taste good to you,” or, “you should have no taste when it comes to religion. If you do, you’re just a “consumer.”

Most who criticize people for their taste are hypocritical on this point. Wouldn’t we rather hear a good sermon than a bad one, music sung on pitch rather than off, meet kind people rather than mean, and worship in an atmosphere of joy rather than criticism or deadness? Of course we would. That’s what having taste does.

Spiritually speaking, if you’re serving up broccoli, wincing and nose-holding is normal, not unspiritual or consumerist. Churches must feed people a balanced and healthy diet theologically, but also a tasty diet experientially. Of course man cannot live on Gummi Bears alone. Meat is obviously needed. So is bread and water and fish and fruit. So, by all means, serve a balanced and healthy diet. Just make sure the meat is tasty, the bread is fresh, the water is clean and the fruit is ripe.

What I’m saying is, people have spiritual taste. Respect this. If you ignore this, you do so to your own peril.

People enjoying experiencing God in an assembly, in a small group, or serving the less fortunate–this isn’t consumerism. It’s taste. It’s how God created us. I wonder how much better off we’d be if we tried to make the food we offer tasty rather than blaming those who taste it for not liking it. Of course there are things that must be force-fed–prophetic words, rebuke, etc., but these are not everyday diet. In addition, while the initial taste may be harsh, the aftertaste will be of God.

I’m suggesting people don’t just observe Christianity. They experience Christianity. There is certainly consumerism to be guarded against. But, spiritual taste and consumerism aren’t the same thing. One is how we were created. The other is a perversion of taste.

“O, taste and see that the LORD is good…” Psalm 34:8

This should be possible in churches.

Dr. Tim Spivey is Lead Planter of New Vintage Church in San Diego, California. He is the author of numerous articles and one book, "Jesus: The Powerful Servant." A sought after speaker for events, Tim also serves as Adjunct Professor of Religion at Pepperdine University. Tim serves as a church consultant, and his writings are featured on ChurchLeaders.com, Church Executive magazine, Faith Village, Sermon Central, and Giving Rocket.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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6 thoughts on “No Taste?

  1. I pray for your ministry. I wish you the best of luck in catering to the ever changing tastes of those who enter your door. I hope you find success transitioning them from a me-centered experience to one that is God-centered.

    I find it interesting that you end with “taste and see that the Lord is good” while focusing on the tastes of man and what they think is good.

    What would the church look like if we actually were seeking to taste God instead of focusing on our own personal tastes?

    Is it any surprise that a culture of personal taste and focus is the most obese and unhealthy around? Should we worry that this idea of tasting for personal pleasure is a relatively new development and people actually used taste for more practical reasons for thousands of years? Should I note that my children would have a diet of candy and cola if it was up to their tastes?

    I could even point out a classic verse 2 Timothy 4:3 and say they certainly had personal tastes.

    I realize you don’t know me and you may simply throw me into a certain catagory and move on and that is fine. I am legitimally concerned for you and the health of your fellowship.

    • Darin, I appreciate the comment. I promise I won’t lump you in with anyone 🙂 The overall idea of the post is that some churches assume the worst of people or write them off for having taste of any kind. They assume to have “taste buds” means they aren’t focused on God. I’m obviously not talking about sinful tastes (lust, selfishness, etc.) as you refer to as 2 Timothy 4:3…but the assumption that people should eat and be satisfied with whatever mediocre drool the church serves–because of our own self-righteous attitudes or as an excuse for mediocre ministry.

      The psalmist is clearly talking to people…and clearly referring to a positive experience of God by appealing to the senses. I don’t think there’s another way to read that.