“Whoever believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him.” — John 7:38
Are We Pickles or Peas?,
by Randall D. Kittle

A few years ago, my wife decided to take up the great domestic pastime of canning. We had gotten “a share” in an organic farm and weren’t quite sure what to do with our new abundance of vegetables. Some friends encouraged her to begin canning the extra vegetables that were beginning to accumulate. After looking into it for a while, she decided to jump on the canning bandwagon and ventured forth to acquire the needed equipment and supplies.

While I know a number of people who are ardent evangelists for canning, I find the whole canning process a little on the mundane side. Still, I must confess there are two things about canning I really enjoy. The first is that little popping sound the jars make when they seal. I’m not sure if that is because each “pop” means we’ve actually accomplished something or if perhaps it’s simply because with each sound I can still see the joy and wonder on my wife’s face when her first can sealed.

The second reason I enjoy canning is much more personal. It’s simply this … pickles. While I’ve always liked dill pickles, I absolutely love the dill pickles my wife cans. They’re fresh, crisp, tart and delicious. In my opinion, pickles show how canning can produce dramatic transformations. You place something I dislike — cucumbers — into a jar with vinegar, dill and salt, put in under a little pressure, wait a while, and the most delightful and delicious things comes out of that jar later; pickles!

Are We Getting Pickled?
This brings me to one of the important questions we need to answer as believers in this day: “Are we pickles or peas?” Under a lot of pressure, soaked in salt and dill and vinegar, cucumbers take in that which they’re soaked in and change. They begin to lose their “cucumberness,” and taste like what they’re soaked in. They really become something quite different.

This is a critical warning to Christians. In this high-pressure world in which we live, we must make certain we are not allowing the cares and concerns of the world to soak into our lives and change us. Jesus told us that we are to be in the world but not of it! He prayed this for us in John 17:15–16, “I do not pray that You should take them out of the world, but that You should keep them from the evil one. They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world.”

In these days, the Lord doesn’t want to take us out of the world, but He does want us to be careful not to be changed and become like the world. We need to keep our hearts and hopes fixed on Jesus, and keep in a constant and close relationship with Him, or it is so easy to start to become like this world that surrounds us and is constantly pressing in. The only way to keep the values and virtues of the kingdom of God active in our lives is to keep in continual relationship with Jesus Christ … the King!

Becoming Like Peas
Instead of becoming like pickles we need to be like peas! Not the peas you might find on your dinner plate or in the grocery store … the peas you find in the hardware store. Allow me to explain. Inside every can of spray paint is a small ball made of metal, glass, or plastic called the “pea.” When you shake the can before spraying, it agitates or stirs up the paint to keep it mixed properly.

Think about that pea for a minute. Like the cucumbers that are being pickled, it is also under a lot of pressure. It is totally submerged in paint — paint that is designed to adhere to things and become part of them. Yet, the pea doesn’t become changed by the paint. Instead, it changes the paint! It stirs up the paint, helping it do what it is supposed to do.

That is how we should be as believers. We need to be in this world but not taking it in and being changed by it, but instead changing it. First of all, we need to keep in constant relationship with Jesus so that the values and “virtues” of this world don’t seep into our lives and change us. Then, we need to stir up the people around us to be changed … to become what they were created for — people who have a relationship with the living God!

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