“I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! So, because your are lukewarm – neither hot nor cold – I am about to spit you out of my mouth.” Revelation 3:15-16, NIV
Do you know what the five “tastes” are? The human tongue is covered with taste buds that can taste sweet, sour, salty, bitter and umami (savory). The taste “umami” is named after the Japanese researcher who first described the taste sensation derived from glutamic acid-containing seaweed extract in 1908. In 1907 the glutamic acid salt monosodium glutamate (MSG) was isolated by Kikunae Ikeda and then patented and sold as a food additive by the Ajinomoto Corporation of Japan. Umami is the taste produced by activation of MSG receptor cells on the tongue.
MSG was introduced to the United States in 1947 and modern commercial MSG is produced by fermentation of starch, sugar beets, sugar cane or molasses. Most fast and processed foods contain MSG as a flavor enhancer. Only the L-glutamate enantiomer has flavor-enhancing properties (remember chirality?). In 1995 the FDA announced that MSG was safe to eat at “customary levels,” but that some people may have MSG intolerance, which leads to “MSG symptom complex” and may cause a worsening of asthmatic symptoms.
As I was salivating over these thoughts, I could not help but wonder what “taste” that I usually represent. Would others say that my life is sweet, sour salty, bitter or umami? The Scriptures say that Christians must, “rid yourselves of all malice and all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and slander of every kind. Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation, now that you have tasted that the Lord is good.” (1 Peter 2:1-3, NIV) Is my life sweet and salty? Do I make others hunger and thirst for Christ? Or am I usually bitter and sour and difficult to be around?
When I first truly began following Christ about twenty years ago I was on fire and wanted everyone to know Christ, even if I had to wrestle them to the ground and hold a Bible to their face. Although my heart was in the right place, my methods were not appetizing which was born out my the fact that a colleague once told me, “if Christ is anything like you, I don’t want any part of Him.” I am so thankful for this friend who showed me early in my faith that what I do, and how I do it matters. So how about it? What “flavor” do others taste from our lives? Let’s ask the Lord to help us be more salty, sweet and umami today. Dear Holy Spirit please help me to be MSG for Christ today.