Hugh Fulford is a retired gospel preacher living in Gallatin, Tennessee. He recently described his supper for the day that included “a mess” of black-eyed peas. As he said, “‘Mess’ is a good Bible word [Hebrews 12:16, ASV] and we Southerners, proud of our culture, use it to describe a large serving of peas, butter beans, green beans, squash, okra, greens, fish, etc.” So it is with the words “pone” and “pinch” and “dab.” They are imprecise measurements for specific uses. Somehow, they work!

     All of those may work well in a recipe or as a serving, but they do not work well in religion. Here’s what I mean. I hear Christians described as “average” or “faithful.” One does just enough while the other is actively involved. I once asked a woman if she was a Christian and she replied that she was “spiritual.” She meant that she believed in spiritual realities but that she really isn’t specific about God, the Bible, the church, etc. I’ve heard people described as being “of the Christian faith” when, in reality, it simply means they believe in Jesus but don’t practice that faith in life.

     God is a little more specific than that. In the Bible, a “Christian” is someone who is a disciple of Jesus and actively follows him even if it means suffering or dying for the faith. (Acts 11:26; 26:28; 1 Pet. 4:16) For many, the “church” is a building or a worship period or something to belong to for special occasions. In the Bible, the “church” is the kingdom of God on earth (Mt. 16:13-19) consisting of those saved in obedience to the gospel (Acts 2:47) and actively involved in glorifying God (Eph. 3:21) through good works, consecrated lives or personal evangelism.

      I possess a recipe that once belonged to my grandmother. In it, she includes a “pinch” of salt. I’m not sure how much that is but, I do know that a “pinch” of religion is not enough! Jesus asked for the total commitment of a person’s being when he said, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.” (Mt. 22:37) Notice that Jesus included every aspect of a person as well as the entirety of each part. “A pinch” of the heart, soul and mind is not enough. A little of each is less than enough to make us what God wants.

     I don’t want this to sound critical. I want it to be understood as a warning! What works in a recipe or a serving is one thing. What works in our faith and service to God is something else. I certainly wouldn’t want just a “dab” of oil in my car or a “bit” of gas for a long trip. I want enough of both to take me where I am going and back home. Just so, I don’t want “just enough” religion to impress men. If I am going to use imprecise language, I want “as much as I can get” of Jesus or maybe “a mess.” (Phil. 3:7,8)

     Paul told us to set our affections on things above where Christ sits on the right hand of God. (Col. 3:1-4) If our love of spiritual things is great enough, we will do all we can to serve and please God. A “dab” or a “pinch” just won’t get the job done!


Gary Knuckles is Minister of the Briensburg Church of Christ, Briensburg, KY.