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Lessons from "Green Eggs and Ham"

Lessons from “Green Eggs and Ham”

 

How many of you have read this book? Dr. Seuss’ “Green Eggs and Ham” is a long repetitious children’s poem. It ends with Sam-I-Am asking for about the 20th time: “You do not like green eggs and ham?”

To which his friend replies: “I do not like them, Sam-I-am.”
Sam-I-am: “Could you, would you, with a goat?"
Friend: “I would not, could not, with a goat!"
Sam-I-am: “Would you, could you, on a boat?”
And in frustration the friend continues:
“I could not, would not, on a boat. I will not, will not, with a goat.
I will not eat them in the rain. I will not eat them on a train.
Not in the dark! Not in a tree! Not in a car! You let me be!
I do not like them in a box. I do not like them with a fox.
I will not eat them in a house. I do not like them with a mouse.
I do not like them here or there. I do not like them ANYWHERE!
I do not like green eggs and ham!
I do not like them, Sam-I-am.”
Sam-I-am: “You do not like them. SO you say. Try them! Try them! And you may. Try them and you may I say."
Friend: “Sam! If you will let me be, I will try them. You will see.

(So disgustedly takes a small bite)
Say! I like green eggs and ham! I do!! I like them, Sam-I-am!
And I would eat them in a boat! And I would eat them with a goat...
And I will eat them in the rain. And in the dark. And on a train.
And in a car. And in a tree. They are so good, so good you see!
So I will eat them in a box. And I will eat them with a fox.
And I will eat them in a house. And I will eat them with a mouse.
And I will eat them here and there. Say! I will eat them ANYWHERE!
I do so like green eggs and ham! Thank you! Thank you, Sam-I-am.”

As a parent, I’ve read that story many times to my kids. They never seemed to grow tired of it even if I was. With the help of a little food coloring, we even had green eggs and ham for breakfast. Over and over and over again, Sam-I-Am repeated the same phrase again and again. The only difference in his appeals was that he would change one or two words each time he tried to convince his friend to try “green eggs and ham.”

2 Timothy 4:1-2 In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who will judge the living and the dead, and in view of his appearing and his kingdom, I give you this charge: Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage--with great patience and careful instruction.  

Paul is writing to Timothy. Paul is in prison and will soon be executed for his preaching. And he’s willing to die this way because, as he reminds Timothy, their message is critical for the world. There’s going to come a day when Jesus will come again, and when He comes, He “will judge the living and the dead.” Because of this, the fate of people depends on our faithfulness to share the Gospel and the Word of God. People will either go to heaven or hell. Jesus is coming again, and only those who belong to Him are promised heaven. Everyone else faces an eternity of regret in hell. We learned a few weeks ago that we must first bind the spirits keeping people from hearing the Gospel. Now we must tell them.

Romans 10:17 Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of Christ.

Therefore, our mission is to pray and use every method we can think of to talk our friends and relatives about Jesus. But how can we talk to them about Christ when they don’t want to hear about Him? What can we do to get them to believe in Jesus Christ and His Word?

Well, we could learn a few things from Sam-I-Am. While “Green Eggs and Ham” is a children’s book, Sam-I-Am shows us what it is going to take to convince people to “taste” Jesus and see He is good.

1 Peter 2:2-3 Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation, now that you have tasted that the Lord is good.

1st – realize that you’re going to encounter rejection. There are going to be times – no matter what you do – that the people you care about will just say no! They won’t “try” Jesus for the same reason Sam-I-Am’s friend would not taste the green eggs and ham. They were not normal! They were green! They couldn’t possibly taste good!

That’s why many people reject Christ. They’ve never really “tasted” Him because He’s “different”. He’s not like us. He’s the Son of God. He’s risen from the dead. He’s sinless. And in order to be a Christian, you have to give your life to this Jesus. You’ve got to believe that He’s the Son of God, repent of your sins, confess Him as your Lord, be buried in baptism and rise up to live a new life. This Jesus is not “normal”. He can’t possibly taste good!

And so, repeatedly, they’ll turn us down when we talk to them about Jesus and His Word.

2Tim 4:3-4 For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths.

People are going to turn us down a lot when we try to talk to them, but get used to it, it’s part of the ministry. But we should never give up presenting people we care about with the simple message: Taste my Jesus…try Him and you will see.

Which leads to my 2nd point - keep it simple. “Green Eggs and Ham” was a poem written by Theodore Geisel (Dr. Seuss) to challenge children to read. He wanted to see how many simple one-syllable words he could use to tell a story. Of the 50 different words in this poem… 49 have only ONE syllable (Boat, Goat, Tree, etc. – the only multi-syllable word is “anywhere”)

And this simple story, has only one message: “taste my eggs and ham… just try them and you’ll see they taste good.” Sam-I-Am kept it simple. And our message is simple: “Taste Jesus…try Him!!! And you’ll see He tastes good.”

John 6:48-51 “I am the bread of life. Your forefathers ate the manna in the desert, yet they died. But here is the bread that comes down from heaven, which a man may eat and not die. I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. This bread is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world."

Taste Jesus. That’s our message. Nothing else matters except getting people to taste our Jesus.

Every year at the University of Chicago Divinity School, they have a picnic lunch where they invite in some great theological minds to lecture while the students and faculty of the University eat their lunches. One year they invited Dr. Paul Tillich, who spoke for 2 1/2 hours. And in his speech, he “proved" that the resurrection of Jesus was false. He quoted scholar after scholar and book after book. He concluded that there was no such thing as the historical resurrection, and he maintained the teaching on a risen Jesus was groundless, emotional, nonsense. Then he then asked if there were any questions.

After about 30 seconds, an old, country preacher stood up in the back of the crowd. "Docta Tillich, I got one question."

He reached into his sack lunch and pulled out an apple and took a bite. "My question is a simple question. Now, I ain’t never read them books you read—and I can’t recite the Scriptures in the original Greek—I don’t know nothin’ about Niebuhr and Heidegger.”

He quit eating the apple and then said "All I wanna know, Mr. Tillich—this apple I ate—was it bitter or sweet?"

Dr. Tillich paused for a moment and answered in a scholarly tone: "I cannot possibly answer that question, for I haven’t tasted your apple."

The old preacher dropped the apple into his crumpled paper bag, looked up at Dr. Tillich and said calmly, "Neither, sir, have you tasted my Jesus."

Psalms 34:8 Taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the man that takes refuge in Him.

There are all kinds of “scholars” out there who have rejected God’s truths for the myths of modern theology and heretical scholars. These are the “experts” you’ll often see on “The Discovery Channel” and the “History Channel”.

And many Christians hear these “experts” and wonder if their faith is wrong. After all,
• we can’t read the Bible in the original Greek and Hebrew.
• we haven’t read all the commentaries on Scripture.
• and we are not great theologians.

But then, neither were Peter, James, and John. They didn’t appeal to academia or to what others said when talking to people about Jesus, they simply told folks how Jesus tasted to them.

1 John 1:1-3 That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked at and our hands have touched--this we proclaim concerning the Word of life. The life appeared; we have seen it and testify to it, and we proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and has appeared to us. We proclaim to you what we have seen and heard, so that you also may have fellowship with us. And our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ.

John is saying: We’ve tasted Jesus! And He tastes really good.” And when he preached, John invited people to taste this same Jesus that he had tasted.

So, 1st we need to realize we’re going to face rejection.  2nd we need to remember to keep it simple. And 3rd – we need to stay “on message”.

Sam-I-Am never strayed from his objective – try my green eggs and ham. He kept repeating his offer over and over and over again. He stayed on message.

Now, there are times when Christians get “off message.” They try to sell their friends on something OTHER than Jesus. They’ll try to get people interested in:

• how good their preacher is,

• the beauty of their building,

• their marvelous youth program,

• how moral their congregation is,

• or how upscale and important their members are.

And they get so caught up in attracting people to the “impressive” things about their church they forget the simple message – “come and taste Jesus”.

If a church doesn’t make that their central focus, their preacher’s sermons are meaningless, their building is just an empty shell, their youth program has no purpose, and their morality has no foundation. Taste Jesus…and everything else will be helpful.

People, especially men, have all kinds of reasons for rejecting Christianity. A preacher in a large congregation in Florida announced a special men’s meeting in his church, proposing to give the men a chance to air their objections to Christianity. Over 1,200 showed. The first objector said, "Church members are no better than anyone else." Others said things like "The preachers are no good," "there are hypocrites in the church,” "The church is a rich man’s club", "Christians don’t believe the Bible anymore", etc.

There were 27 objections to Christianity in all. When they were through, the preacher read off the whole list…then he tossed it aside: "Friends, you have objected to preachers, to church members, to the Bible, etc., but you have not said one word against my Lord, Jesus Christ!" And in a few simple words, he preached Christ to them as the faultless One. Then he gave an invitation and 49 men responded.

The problem for those men was they’d never been asked the simple question: Would you like to taste my Jesus? They had tasted of preachers, and teachers, and church members galore, and found them disgusting, but they’d never truly tasted of Christ.

Now, just because we need to keep our message simple, doesn’t mean we can’t get creative. Sam-I-Am kept changing his approach: Would you could you on a train, would you could you in the rain? Would you eat them with in a box, could you eat them with a fox? He always tried something different to get his friend to taste his green eggs and ham. He tried suggesting different places: in a house, on a train, in a tree, in a car, etc.

So try introducing people to Jesus in different settings—church is a natural one, or you could invite your friend over to your house for a cookout, or to play a game, or to watch a religious movie. You could invite them to a Christian concert, or a skeet shoot with the youth group, or on a church trip to the zoo, or to a campground – like the women’s retreat next month. But always keep in mind: your main objective is to get them to taste Jesus.

Let me ask you a simple question. How many of you here this morning do not like opera? What would convince you to go to one? Free tickets? A free dinner? Maybe, maybe not. But the main reason you’d go is because someone you liked invited you. Sam-I-Am’s friend thought he did not like green eggs and ham, but he tried them partly because they were friends and a friend would not deceive him. Therefore, develop relationships with unbelievers, gain their trust, and tell them about Jesus.

Now if you had a choice, would you go to an opera with someone who could barely stand that kind of music themselves, or would you prefer to go with someone who was so excited about opera that they hardly ever missed a performance, and they could explain it to you?

Think about it. Will people come to church with you if you are not really that excited about going yourself and you can’t tell them what it is about? Sam-I-Am was really excited about green eggs and ham and he testified how good they tasted. Make sure you have “tasted” Jesus so you can be genuinely enthusiastic about Him and tell others how good He “tastes”.

For example, back in the 1800’s, a skeptic promised a preacher named Alexander Maclaren that he would attend his church for 4 Sundays. Maclaren told the skeptic that during those sermons he’d present reasons why he should believe in Jesus.

The skeptic was true to his word and showed up each Sunday, listening intently to the sermons.
After the fourth message he stepped forward to give his life to Christ. Maclaren was delighted, but he couldn’t resist the impulse to ask which of the four sermons brought about this decision.

The skeptic replied, "Your sermons, sir, were helpful, but they were not what finally persuaded me. After church one Sunday, I was helping an elderly lady on a slippery walk and she looked at me lovingly and said, ‘I wonder if you know my Savior, Jesus Christ. He is everything in the world to me. I would like you to know Him too.’”

In other words, with love, gentleness, and kindness, that woman asked the only theological question to ask, “Have you tasted my Jesus? He tastes so good! I wish you would taste Him.”

You may have heard a lot about Jesus. Everybody has an opinion about Him, but have you “tasted” Him? Do you really know Him? If not, we would like you to know Him, today. There is no description of what He “tastes” like until you have tried Him and that takes faith.

Hebrews 11:1-3 & 6 Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. This is what the ancients were commended for. By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God's command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible…6 And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him. 

To “taste” Jesus, believe that He is the Son of God, who died on the Cross for the atonement of your sin and who rose from the grave after three days, proving He is God, the Eternal Living One. Believe it and confess it, and acknowledge that you are a sinner in need of His salvation. Give your mortal life to Him in baptism and receive eternal life born of the Holy Spirit. Then you will find out that the Lord “tastes” good and you will want others to try Him.