Discerning Gluttons

A friend of mine leaned against the door frame, his head cocked to the side and his eyebrows raised at me.”Sometimes I think you just need to stop listening to so many voices,” he said.

He was right. But he was also wrong.

That was three years ago. I was on a rescue mission for my faith, and it was proving hard to find. I listened to sermons from Keller to Bell, Driscoll to Washer, Spurgeon to Buechner, but it was only one that eventually unveiled the truth to me. I read books from Lewis to Harris, Winner to Lamott, Miller to Piper, and still, just one, a plain white one with black lettering, pushed through the rocky soil and revealed the answer to me.

We are pushed from all sides and all opinions—opinions there are no shortages of in 2013. Truth, though, this is a commodity, hot or not.

Sometimes the truth is easily found; it floats to the surface amid the slickly oiled world. But sometimes the truth must be mined, dug down deeply in, beyond the mud, the soil and the rocks. And the truth about both of those truths is we will not see them unless we are looking.

Every Tuesday night a group of girls sprawls out around my living room. We are delving and looking together, seeing what we can find. A few nights ago we talk about the gospel, the buzzword gets lost in the shuffle, at least in our church. Everyone talks about the gospel at our church. Being gospel-centered, gospel-minded, gospel-driven, gospel, gospel, gospel. (Be careful or you’ll get tongue-tied.)

But what is the gospel? This is the question we’re asking last night. What is the good news?

Here’s some good news: in a room of 12 people, we had 12 different definitions of the gospel. Here’s some more good news: all the definitions were somehow the same.

This is good news because the gospel is intensely personal, and the gospel is wildly grand. It is near to you in a way I will never know it, and it is so far from both of us that we will spend the rest of our lives trying to know it more.

The challenge is we will not always know where to look, and we are less than discerning readers these days. We gobble up tweets and statuses and links and blogs and articles and books like Tiny Tim at the Christmas feast: we are voracious where we lack in discernment.

Because we know the gospel is wildly grand, and heaven comes to earth, and God wins (and has already won), this is okay. We can keep reading, keep mining, keep wrestling with confidence that his kingdom is safe and his Word does not return void.

But because the gospel is intensely personal, and it changes us every single day whether we intend for it to or not, this is not okay, because what we eat becomes us, and if we are eating poor theology, pointless words, or simply subsisting on entertainment, we will be fat on a feast that will ruin us.

As tongue-tied as the gospel might make us, it is the only thing that ultimately has the power to change us.

  • Isaac

    ” it was only one that eventually unveiled the truth to me.”
    “and still, just one, a plain white one with black lettering, pushed through the rocky soil and revealed the answer to me.”

    Would you mind sharing which one it was? Thanks.

    • Serj

      I think she’s talking about the Bible. The one voice (the sheep know the shepherd’s voice) and the one text that contains total truth.

    • http://sayable.net Lore Ferguson


      Thanks for asking =) I hesitate to share simply because I don’t want anyone thinking these two resources are prescriptive for the chronic doubter like me, however, someone once passed them on to me at one time! The sermon was Matt Chandler’s Preaching the Gospel to the Dechurched from Advance 2009. And the book was The Reason for God by Tim Keller. Both had (and continue to have) significant impact on me.

  • Andrew

    Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behavior. But now he has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation— if you continue in your faith, established and firm, and do not move from the hope held out in the gospel. THIS IS THE GOSPEL that you heard and that has been proclaimed to every creature under heaven, and of which I, Paul, have become a servant. (Colossians 1:21-23)

    For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes: first to the Jew, then to the Gentile. (Romans 1:16)

  • http://januaryrainstorm.blogspot.com/ Mark Z

    I’m interested to know more of this fascinating story. What do you mean a rescue mission for your faith? What were you searching for in all the sermons you listened to, and what brought an end to it?

    • http://sayable.net Lore Ferguson

      Mark, I really mean it literally, I was employed by my church at the time, leading homegroups, involved in the life of church, and I was completely void of faith. I confessed my doubt in God, in my salvation, and in the whole shebang in early spring of 2010, and then God slowly began the process of drawing my eyes off of myself and onto Him. The story is more elaborated here on my personal blog: http://sayable.net/2012/01/genie-god-1996/ Thanks for asking!

  • http:/mashenahope.blogspot.com Nicole

    I replied to a tweet advertising this post, but I thought I would share this here as well:

    I realize this is rather off the topic – but it’s a passion of mine. :) Can we be careful about equating “fat” with “poor and pointless” eating? I know it’s just an analogy, but using it helps to maintain the belief that ALL fat people eat poorly and that poor and pointless eating turns you fat. Neither are absolutes. Using the word “malnourished” would work just as well and not reinforce dominant cultural teachings about body size and their associated worth.

  • http://www.notperfectonlyforgiven.blogspot.com Tara

    Wow. Love your honesty here, Lore! Really good. Blessings to you, sister!

  • Alien & stranger

    Lore, I thought I’d posted a response, but it seems I never finished my comment, as I’ve just come across this blog again, two weeks later! I recently read the book “So you don’t want to go to church any more?” written in the first person by “Jake Colsen” (actually Wayne Jacobsen and Dave Coleman). It is really a parable in novel form, as Pilgrim’s Progress is. I was wary when I saw that one of the two authors was involved in The Shack, which brought condemnation on him, and the book has been criticised as being anti-church, but in fact it is about finding meaning and purpose first and foremost in and through our relationship with Jesus Christ. The Gospel must of course be the one proclaimed in the Bible, and which enables us to be reconciled with God and to know him. However, “Churchianity” – all our church activity and involvement – is no substitute for a relationship with Jesus. It all needs to flow out of our relationship with Jesus, otherwise we “run dry” and “burn out”. I think the book will resonate with you.