People no longer have any idea of the flavour of glory in their lives, since they have lived so long without any awareness of it. Like Asians who have only eaten heavily spiced food and who do not know the taste of unseasoned vegetables, many people do not know the flavour of some key human experiences.
My American contacts are so accustomed to adding sauces and toppings to things that it seems they don’t know how to enjoy the natural fruit and food flavours. On my first trip to the USA I called my family to look inside the fridge of our hosts. The fridge door was jam packed with different bottles, each containing a special seasoning for some food or other. And instead of one variety of sauce (ketchup as they call it) they had to have half a dozen varieties to suit their particular taste-bud penchant from time to time. Our hosts were surprised that we did not need to douse our food with sauces to be able to eat and enjoy it.
The problem with seasonings and sauces is that we adjust to them. Our physiology no longer responds to the added flavour, but adjusts to it and then requires it as normal. A child raised on sugary cordial finds it hard to enjoy a natural fruit juice. A person who puts plenty of salt on their food finds unsalted food too bland. A person who is used to eating tomato sauce on all their meat will find the natural meat flavours deficient.
I recall being a student at Faith Bible College in New Zealand in 1978. A couple from the USA prepared dessert one weekend. It was ice-cream doused in all the available toppings at the same time. Chocolate, strawberry and caramel ran together, with chopped nuts on a mixture of ice-cream flavours. I reacted to it for several reasons. I preferred chocolate above the other flavours and if I had to have an extravagant dessert I would have preferred the flavour of my choice. I also knew that the Bible College ran on a thin budget and that all the local students would have been just as happy with any one of the toppings, saving the others for use at another time. But what shocked me most was that these fellow students thought it normal to throw every possible flavour together as if that was the only way to enjoy themselves. It seemed that they had lost the enjoyment of vanilla ice-cream or the simpler pleasures which their parents would have thought perfectly delightful. Indulgence had pushed them, and I suspected their culture, to the point where lovely things were no longer lovely. Sweet things were no longer sweet enough. Delights were no longer delightful. Only a new and exotic experience pushing the bounds of past treats would suffice.
Extending that principle to other life experiences it seems that many people who have their palate tantalised by modern ‘seasonings’ have forgotten how to enjoy the natural flavours of life. People raised on a diet of late release movies, happy endings, explosive dramas and sexy sensuality find that real life seems to be missing something.
The problem is at least two-fold. One problem, mentioned already, is that we are adaptation devices. We quickly become accustomed to things that were at first tantalising or too strong for us. Once we have adapted to something our very physiology robs us of continued tantalisation. We no longer feel as thrilled by the new taste or experience as we did the first time. So we need to add an extra spoonful of sugar, another dose of spice, or some other element of excitement to make the experience as enjoyable as it was the first time.
This is the situation with drug addiction. The addict may enjoy their early drug experiments, but they find that the experience becomes more normal all the time and so a higher dose or more potent drug is sought. The whole process is self-defeating, leading the addict down a path of increased addiction and slavery.
The second problem is that our fleshly appetites have the ability to enslave us. Indulgence is more than a physiological issue. It is a spiritual issue. Mankind was created in God’s image to reflect who God is and to live by His holiness. When we deviate from that we are stepping into moral quicksand and the domain of moral slavery. Indulging human appetite for selfish ends brings us into slavery to that very appetite. We are then drawn back to it, again and again, not in order to achieve some new level of reward and satisfaction, but simply to resolve the inner pressure of a deficit which we feel.
Here is the Biblical basis for what I have been explaining.
“Don’t you know that to whom you yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants you are to whom you obey; whether of sin leading to death, or of obedience leading to righteousness?” The Apostle Paul, Romans 6:16.
“Jesus answered them, Truly, truly, I tell you, Whoever commits sin is the servant of sin.” Jesus Christ, John 8:34
In all this, the physiological adaptation and the personal slavery that comes with our moral failures, people become spoiled for that which is natural. The taste of normal life, the quiet life, peace and joy, is rejected because it is not sensational enough.
I think this is a major issue in western lives today. It is not a new problem, but it is a real problem for today’s generation. We have a culture addicted to sensual pleasure and unable to enjoy what God has given them. So I’ll toss this subject around some more and give you another dose when I get back to it.