I am sure you have heard of the “King of Pop” – Michael Jackson, but have you heard of the king of fruit – durians? I was recently confronted with the love/hate topic of durians, a tropical and controversial crowd-dividing fruit. Characterised by a very distinctive smell (more on that later) and hard thorny shell.
They originate from South East Asia (Malaysia, Indonesia & Brunei). Falling durians have a sad, but very real killing record — like some historical kings (Henry VIII, for example).
A fragrance or a stench?
Alfred Wallace, the natural historian who worked with Charles Darwin on the theory of Natural Selection described the taste of durian in his book The Malay Archipelago as, “A rich butter-like custard highly flavoured with almonds gives the best general idea of it, but intermingled with it comes wafts of flavour that call to mind cream-cheese, onion-sauce, brown sherry, and other incongruities.” Others, however, have likened the smell and aftertaste of durian to the smell of death.
This reminds me of how the Apostle Paul compares believers to a fragrance that divides people, much like that of the durian. Paul says:
“For we are to God the pleasing aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing. To the one we are an aroma that brings death; to the other, an aroma that brings life. And who is equal to such a task?” (2 Corinthians chapter 2, verses 15-16)
If you love durian, its smell gives joy. If you despise it, the smell of durian might keep you from even trying it.
Nothing in between
When I ask people if they like durians, the question generally evokes strong responses in both those for and against it. There is little room to sit on the fence. Similarly, the message of the Gospel is a divisive topic with no room for a lukewarm response.
In the book of Revelation we’re taught that God “knows your deeds, that you are neither cold not hot; I wish that you were cold or hot. So because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of My mouth.” (Revelation chapter 3, verses 15-16)
I find this a constant challenge — to rekindle and maintain my passion for Christ and the Gospel. Like my opinion on durians, I need to have a clear love and passion for the Gospel.
The fruit of the Gospel we bear is either good or bad, with each being borne from a good or bad tree respectively (see Matthew chapter 7, verses 18-20). Historically I have always considered durian a bad fruit, in part because of all those signs you see in Asian countries banning it from indoor environments or enclosed spaces like lifts. Amazingly, like the transformative power of the Gospel, I seem to slowly be growing to accept durians as palatable in small doses! So maybe, just maybe, durians can be considered a good fruit?
Our reputation precedes us
Paul writes about the fragrance of the Gospel, that this fragrance of the knowledge of Christ becomes like our reputation in that it precedes us. The very way we live can yield opportunities to engage people who catch the scent of the Gospel. This is an open door to share the good news that Jesus, as our Saviour, has risen from the dead and offers salvation — eternal life with Him in heaven.
Perseverance for fruit
Durian skin features a thick layer of spiky thorns. For those who love the inner flesh an effort needs to be made to penetrate the skin in order to reap the reward of that fleshy durian substance at the core.
In a similar way, the Gospel can be taken at a surface level. We can see it as a challenging and difficult concept to grasp and fully appreciate. Yet, I have found that as I persevere in reading God’s Word with the help of the Holy Spirit, I glean new revelation and a more in-depth appreciation for the substance that is the Word of God. That richness, in turn, will show in our lives as good fruit.
Like anything good, it is worth the effort and pain to persevere in our pursuit of the living Gospel. Patience and endurance are characteristics that help build up our faith.
Plant the fruit
The fruit analogy has one final teaching for us to appreciate — both the Gospel and durian are things that grow with nurturing and care. Plant the Gospel in your heart and let it flourish so that the sweet aroma of God helps you represent Jesus to all.
King of Kings
For me, durians are not quite the king of fruit. If there was one fruit to rule them all, and in the darkness bind them, for me that would be the mango! Jesus however, bears the title King of Kings, and so He is Sovereign over all others and is therefore Lord of the durian.
Nic works by day as a Business Analyst Consultant whilst, outside of business hours, maintains an IT support & website services business in Melbourne. He serves and leads in his local church as well as volunteers with 89.9 Light FM (Christian Community Radio). Whilst some say he looks like Harry Potter, his preferred fantasy fiction, if this article is any indication, is Lord of the Rings.
Nic Lee works by day as a Business Analyst Consultant whilst, outside of business hours, maintains an IT support & website services business. He volunteers with 89.9 LightFM (Christian Community Radio). Nic has served for over twenty years in his local church, in worship, technology consulting, life group leading and event management.