That said, I have learned a lot from these cooking shows, and one particular lesson comes from the process of reduction.
Now for those of you who do cook, please bear with me, as I insert the Wikipedia definition for those very few who don’t: “Reduction is the process of thickening and intensifying the flavor of a liquid mixture such as a soup, sauce, wine, or juice by simmering or boiling.”
Please notice four things here. First, reduction can happen slowly (simmering) or quickly (boiling), but 2) it takes heat, and the result is 3) less of the original so that what is left is 4) more flavorful.
When John the Baptist’s disciples were concerned that Jesus was “stealing” his followers, John employed this concept of reduction: “He must increase, but I must decrease” (John 3:30).
As Christians we, like John the Baptist, need to realize that our life should be a constant process of reduction. Christ’s qualities and purposes should become more visible in us while our self-serving characteristics should gradually decrease. But this transformation is not always easy because there are some areas in our lives that we don’t want to disappear, like our opinions and rights and desires. We want to keep them. In fact, sometimes we even want them enhanced.
Hence, the need for heat . . . aka . . . trials.
Paul illustrates this reduction concept in Romans 5:3-4 and James 1:2-4:
… but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.
Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters,whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.
So when we experience the heat of difficult times, we should not despair, for while it might be uncomfortable, it is doing its work of taking away the excess of us and leaving the fragrant aroma and flavor of Christ.