In case anyone was wondering, I’ve been in Europe for two weeks, and hence have not been posting. 🙂
In both London and Paris, there is no such thing as Sprite or 7Up. Nor are there ice cubes, but I’ll talk about that some other time. Instead, they have lemonade.
Now, in America, when we say lemonade we think sweetened lemon juice mixed with water, dumped into a tall tumbler, and crowned with umbrellas and a lemon slice. Lemonade is very distinct.
However, in France, lemonade is something quite different. To the Londoners and Parisians, it’s a carbonated clear drink, resting in a glass, and topped off with a sliver of lemon peel. In America, this liquid is called Sprite. And this is quite confusing to the hot, tired, confused, English-speaking American trying to navigate his way around the country.
Once the warmish lemonade had cleared my foggy brain somewhat, I began thinking about what else we call one thing–when we really mean another. Social complements are like that. We say, “Your hat is quite unique”, when everyone knows we really mean, “How can your sister bear to be seen in public with you when your headgear is so monstrous”. We say lemonade, and we mean Sprite. But then again, everyone is used to that game in that context. We’ve been playing it for thousands of years (“what a unique camel…”).
Unfortunately, we’ve dragged the game of Sprite over into other, more important areas as well. We now say, “Oh, I’m not religious,” when what we really mean is, as *Doug Wilson, quoting an atheist, put it, “There is no God, and I hate Him.” *We proudly announce that we’ve “asked Jesus into our hearts”, which, as we all know, means that you think you’re friends with a forest fire because you can make a candle flame wiggle by breathing on it. We not only understate our concepts–we distort them out of the truth altogether. Go deeper into the lemonade–it isn’t what you think it is. Our culture has blurred the line between pleasant avoidance of the hard truths of life and complete lies (which is, by the way, where we get flattery). We are served Sprite, and are taken in to thinking that it really is lemonade.
To a blindfolded person, lemony Sprite and carbonated lemonade taste a lot alike. How can we tell the difference between Sprite and lemonade– between lies and truth? Take off the blindfold. What happens when you take it off? Your eyes absorb the light bouncing off your surroundings, and reflect it to the glass full of–as we now see–Sprite. But where can we get that light? From only one place–Christ (See John 1:9). Through him, we can distinguish between what a person says, and what they mean–and we can learn to speak only truth. Lemonade and Sprite are both good–but when you’re expecting one, the other is a nasty surprise. Christians must be able to distinguish right from wrong, and we can only do that through the light of God.
“‘We do not truly see light, we only see slower things lit by it.” -C.S. Lewis, Out of the Silent Planet
Take off your blindfold–go, carry your Sprite around with you, and speak God’s truth.
* = As to the aforementioned quote, Douglas Wilson said that in “Collision”, jokingly referring to it as the atheist’s main premise.