The Gospel of Kale

The Gospel of Kale

I’ve lost count of the number of meals I’ve eaten in the last week that contained kale. There was a salmon fillet over kale for dinner one night, and then a couple of days of smoothies with kale and strawberries. There was a kale breakfast salad I ate for lunch one day, and a kale salad with beans mixed in a jar for lunch another day.

It might sound like I’ve gone kale crazy, and before you think I’m some kind of healthy food fanatic, let me be clear: I have avoided the idea of kale and other health food for a lot of years. Before this week, you probably could have even called me a kale skeptic.

Kale salad in a jar!

Kale salad in a jar!

But in one grocery shopping trip, I not only bought kale, but swiss chard, too! So many greens! And the kale was more than I needed for one recipe, so I had to do something with it. Waste not, want not and all of that.

The truth is, the holidays were tough on me, as far as eating goes. For the past few months, I’ve been trying, with my doctor, to get to the bottom of some abdominal pain. Tests are coming back normal, so I’m paying more attention to what I’m eating. And whether I like it or not, some foods seem to be kinder to me than others. (I’m looking at you, bread.) It’s almost impossible to eat anything a teensy bit healthy at Christmas unless it’s a family thing to do so, and I was at the mercy of other people’s cooking, so when we finished with our family visit, I felt the need to re-introduce some healthy food into our system.

To say I was surprised by how much I enjoyed eating kale is an understatement. When I posted on Facebook about making a smoothie, and later, about how good a kale breakfast salad was (I mean, come on; how weird does that sound?!) I got some interesting feedback. I think my favorite was simply this: #gross.

A year ago, I probably would have agreed. I have friends who, to varying degrees, have taken their health consciousness beyond my comfort zone, and while I once would have dismissed their efforts, I’m now changing my reaction. Probiotics in the morning? You got it! An apple cider vinegar drink with lunch? Yum! “Super” veggies with our meals? A must!

And the fact that I’m posting online about these things, in such a public way, has me feeling sorry for all the times I scrolled past the status updates about others’ healthy decisions. I always figured it was exaggerated. No one could really be that enthusiastic about health food, could they?

Sometimes I think this is what people think about the Gospel. Those of us who have “tasted and seen” the Lord’s goodness want others to know the great benefits, too. It’s like trying to convince my kids to eat the kale and chard.

I know it sounds gross, but try it, you’ll like it. I promise. Besides, it’s really good for your brain and bones. Did you know there’s as much calcium in this kale as milk? Delicious!

Yep, I oversold it. They tried it and didn’t like it, and that’s okay. (I should mention that my kids are really good eaters. They like broccoli and brussels sprouts and spinach.) Doesn’t mean it’s off the menu just yet because in just a short amount of time, I’ve felt better about what has gone into my body. I’m headed back to the store, or maybe the market, to buy more kale this week. (And strawberries.)

My plan is to consistently put kale on the menu, to continue offering the healthier options. And maybe they’ll develop a taste for it. I think that’s one of the reasons they eat so many other vegetables so well. They’ve been eating those other veggies since they were toddlers. Winning them over to kale and chard might take a little more time.

So it is with Jesus. In some circles, His name is less well-received than a plate of boiled kale, for more reasons than we can list on this blog. And I’m increasingly convinced that we can’t sell Him to people. Our enthusiasm for Jesus, posted occasionally on Facebook or Twitter, or expressed face-to-face, will rarely be the thing that moves people toward Him.

Instead, it will be things like relationships. When a good friend changed her diet (eating lots of kale and greens) to combat the Lyme disease she didn’t know she had and told me how much different she felt, I believed her and my feelings about kale shifted.

It will take a consistent presentation of the goodness of Christ in our lives. My kids see me making smoothies out of kale, and they like smoothies, so they might be interested. I’m going to offer kale as many ways as I can find to make it. And I’m going to eat it in front of them. Kale might not be appetizing on its own, so I will find a way to make it appealing. Jesus will be more appealing to others when they see His consistent presence in our lives in all its varied ways.

It will take people trying it for themselves. Like the poor fellow in the Doctor Seuss book who refuses to eat the green eggs and ham, those who have not tried Christ for themselves will not be convinced simply by our words and our experience. They will have to “taste and see” for themselves. We can’t do it for them.

My recent kale conversion was born of desperation. I don’t want to feel like this, health-wise, anymore. So I took a leap and made a change that I know is good for me. It’s not a new year’s resolution. I want it to be a lasting change, and I’ve seen how it has helped others.

The Gospel is good news, but sometimes it’s like kale. And until we’re desperate for a change, we’re just not that interested.

Lisa Bartelt About Lisa Bartelt

Lisa has been writing stories for more than a decade, first for newspapers and now as a freelancer, blogger and budding novelist. She lives in Pennsylvania with her husband and two kids. Read more at her blog, Beauty on the Backroads.


  1. I love your posts, Lisa! I agree, we can’t “sell” people on Jesus. We have to show them and develop relationships so they can see the difference He makes in our lives. I do think tweets and Facebook help with it. I think God uses every little thing to reach people and it all adds up. I love your take on this, and bless you for your words! Viva la Kale!

  2. Thanks, Cherie! It takes all kinds of interactions, you’re right. 🙂 I bought more kale today!

  3. Laurie Driesen says:

    Love your post- it’s true – people sometimes have to be desperate before something that’s good for them looks good. I like how you related it to Jesus. It’s really a shame that people seek everywhere else first and when all that fails them, Jesus starts looking better. How does He put up with us?! I agree, we need to live it and show people His presence in our lives.

  4. Love this post! Made me stop and think. Definitely true. About kale and Jesus. But I love how you worded this: “It will take people trying it for themselves. Like the poor fellow in the Doctor Seuss book who refuses to eat the green eggs and ham, those who have not tried Christ for themselves will not be convinced simply by our words and our experience. They will have to “taste and see” for themselves. We can’t do it for them.” All we can do is live a Christlike example in front of them, or eat the kale. It’s up to them whether they do or not.

  5. Great analogy, Lisa. My husband recently picked 3 bags of Swiss chard from the garden. (yes, in late December) Now I will not look at it in quite the same way.

  6. Wow, what a great analogy, Lisa! I have never tried kale and it’s just within the past few months that I started using leafy spinach as opposed to iceberg lettuce in salads. You did a great job of showing readers how, like new foods, we can’t “force” Jesus on anyone, but we must set the example and live in such a way that His light shines through us, tempting and encouraging others to learn more about Him.

    Thanks for sharing!

  7. Still thinking about this. I have always been annoyed by events where they advertise a play or something, then feel compelled to “sneak” a gospel message in at the end. Sort of like sneaking kale into macaroni and cheese. Your kids notice anyway, and it just annoys them.


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