You might love them or you might despise them. But however you feel about bananas, you have to admit their smell packs a punch! If you put a banana in your school lunch, your sandwich and cookie will probably taste like a banana by lunchtime. Drop a banana in your smoothie and it’ll be hard to taste anything else.
But this isn’t all bad, especially because we can learn something from the banana principle. They can actually help us understand one of the most difficult tensions in our lives as Christians: how to live in the world but not be of the world.
Let’s read Jesus’ prayer for us in John 17:14-16: “I have given them your word and the world has hated them, for they are not of the world any more than I am of the world. My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one. They are not of the world, even as I am not of it.”
Talk about a struggle. How are we supposed to exist in the world but not be worldly? Does this mean not hanging out with non-Christian friends anymore because they might tempt you to do something you shouldn’t? Or what if members of your family aren’t Christian anymore--how are you supposed to interact with them? Should you reconsider attending a university where you might have to take classes that disagree with your Christian beliefs? How should you respond to books, movies or events that aren’t created by Christians? Some of these examples may seem extreme, but you will encounter situations in your life that cause you to question your involvement with them.
Jesus’ answer is to be in the Word and be like a banana. Well, actually he uses the examples of salt and light, but sometimes it’s helpful to put Scripture in a different context to help us understand the meaning.
Matthew 5:13-14 says, “You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot. “You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.”
Flavor the earth! Jesus says. When you steep yourself in God’s Word, you can’t avoid God’s strong scent in your life. You will naturally share Jesus’ flavor with everyone you meet. This doesn’t mean putting yourself in tempting situations where it will be hard to avoid sin, but it does mean using wisdom and strength from His Word to be in the world but not overcome by it, just like a banana shares its flavor but doesn’t lose it.
In other words, we don’t need to hide from our non-Christian friends or classes or teachers. Instead, we should intentionally interact within those circles to share Jesus’ love. They will be impacted by us because of the Holy Spirit living and working inside of us.
Just as a little bit of salt goes a long way, so does our presence with people who don’t know Jesus. Just as a flicker of light transforms a dark room, so does our light shine while we hang out with friends or answer controversial questions in a classroom.
So the next time you pack a banana in your lunch, let it be a reminder to you that you don’t have to compromise your faith by being in the world; instead you can flavor the earth with Jesus’ love!
Prayer: Jesus, thank you for praying for me. Give me the courage to be in the world and a witness for you. Help me soak in your Word, share your love and glorify your name in all that I do. In your name I pray, Amen.