I became a diet soda drinker when I was a freshman in high school.
Here’s how it happened.
One morning in health class, I briefly fainted. Naturally, the teacher sent me to the school nurse, who asked me what I had eaten for breakfast. I reported that my morning menu had featured pancakes drenched in maple syrup, with a side of Oreo cookies.
It had been quite a sugary start.
The school nurse suggested I might have an insulin-sensitivity issue. Several members of my family suffered from similar problems, so I thought she might be right.
So I decided to change my diet, which included giving up sugared soda.
Maybe you’re thinking, “Diet soda isn’t good for you either.” But that’s not the point of this story. Neither is my health, which is fine, thank you.
Here’s the point. At first, I didn’t like diet soda’s unpleasant aftertaste. But I stuck with it, and it didn’t take long before I didn’t even notice. Ironically, soon I couldn’t drink the sugary stuff because it tasted like syrup.
Most people would agree that diet soda is an “acquired taste.” It takes repeated consumption before you learn to appreciate the flavor. My current favorite drink, coffee, can be the same way. (Although you’ll immediately appreciate the caffeine kick.)
Jesus discussed this phenomenon of “acquired taste” in Luke 5. The Pharisees and the disciples of John the Baptist were having trouble accepting Jesus’ teachings. They didn’t understand why Jesus and His disciples didn’t do things the way they had always been done.
This prompted Jesus to observe, “No one after drinking old wine wants the new, for they say, ‘The old is better’ ” (Luke 5:39 NIV).
The Pharisees and, to an extent, John’s disciples were addicted to the “old stuff” – the rules and rituals of Old Testament Judaism – and they didn’t appreciate the “new wine” Jesus offered.
The problem was that the “old wine” was killing its consumers, even if it appealed to some practitioner’s tastes.
We don’t always appreciate spiritual things on the first try. Disciplines like prayer, fasting, giving, and sacrifice usually taste a little foreign at first.
Jesus’ closest disciples struggled with this, too. Once, when Jesus discussed His impending death, Peter rebuked Him. Jesus responded, “Get thee behind me, Satan: for thou savourest not the things that be of God, but the things that be of men” (Mark 8:33).
Peter hadn’t yet acquired an appreciation for the sacrifice Jesus was planning to make. But eventually he would. In time, Peter would willingly submit to his own cross.
Maybe you’re trying to implement changes into your life, but you’re finding that they don’t taste very pleasant to the “old man.” If so, stick with it. Pour the old stuff down the drain and fully embrace the new. You’ll discover that some things truly are an “acquired taste.”
In time, I’m confident you’ll find yourself declaring, “How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth!” (Psalm 119:103 NIV).