It had never occurred to me how much the Kingdom of God has to do with tea until last week – and it all hinged on a fascinating conversation with a wise Hindu man.
We were doing that polite sort of dance that people of different faiths go through when they meet at a ‘do’, when suddenly something clicked.
Sanjay – formerly Chef in Charge to the King of Saudi Arabia and who has worked under world-famous Michelin-starred chef Raymond Blanc – told me of his horror at seeing a well-known high street chain selling “instant tea”.
The whole idea was impossible, he told me.
“I’m from India,” he said. “We know that you can’t have instant tea. You must let tea seep through to let the flavour grow. If you don’t then it’s just not worth drinking; actually it’s not tea.”
As we talked we realised it wasn’t only tea that needed time. Although we were talking from the perspective of different faiths we acknowledged that, for each of us, taking time really mattered.
As we talked, I realised that this was a rich piece of truth and that Sanjay, whose wisdom I warmed to, was saying something really important:
- if we were to properly understand each other’s deeply-held convictions, it would take time.
- if we are to earn the right to share our faith with other people, we need to invest time in becoming their trusted friends.
- “hit and run” evangelism is dishonest and destructive.
- an attempt at quick-fix faith is about as tasteful as instant tea.
I’m not sure when I’ll see Sanjay again, but his rich truth will percolate away for a long time.