August 25, 2010

What the Aussies Taught Me

OVER THE YEARS, I’VE MADE MANY TRIPS TO THAT FASCINATING country “down under.” Australians work you practically to death when you go there, but their down-to-earth warmth makes up for it, and you find yourself going back. Inadvertently, they’ve taught me something about grace—about what our attitude should be toward those we’re trying to win over to the gospel. And it all centered around what at first struck me as one of their strange culinary favorites: Marmite (pronounced MAR-myet), a yeast extract spread on food, like butter.
My first encounter with the product came on my first visit to the country in 1988—during “tea” time at the Byron Bay camp meeting, in North New South Wales. Spreading a generous amount on my bread that first evening, I remember my immediate reaction after the first bite: Yuck! What’s this!
Veterans at watching the reaction of neophytes, the Aussies took it all in good humor. Never once did they force the substance on me; never once did they shun me for not liking it. They just continued relishing it with joy in my presence.
Until, during my umpteenth visit to the country, I decided to try it again, spreading it lightly this time (the right way to do it), with a generous covering of avocado. Unbelievably, I found it scrumptious! And I caught myself looking forward to breakfast—just so I could settle in with my Marmite, avocado, and Sanitarium cereal! My mouth even waters for it as I write this.
When people at first react negatively to the gospel, let’s not force the point—or shun them. Let’s just keep relishing God’s grace with joy in their presence. One day, like me, they’ll give it a second taste; and suddenly find it mouthwatering. 
Roy Adams is an associate editor of the Adventist Review. This article was published August 26, 2010.