First United Methodist Church, Lewistown, PA 17044  ~  717-248-4618   ~  fumc200@outlook.com

Meh, I'll do what I want.

May 10, 2016

Baking is not my forte.  There I said it and I feel good about it.

I didn't say I can't bake or won't bake. I said it isn't my forte.

I was perusing the multitude of recipes online and I bumped into this one. This chocolate cake recipe has specific ingredients and measurements to help guide a baker and produces a tasty result (wanted to say "Kake" there but refrained).    Recipes are blessings and curses to some. I have known cooks and bakers who rarely use a recipe and the product comes out pretty good each time. I also know those who use recipes religiously and the product comes out with the same quality each time. 

     The fast food industry relies on a structured process and recipe to produce a burger that tastes the same whether you eat it in Lewistown, PA or Gatwick Airport, London. Forms and procedures are apparently good things.

    Just for the sake of argument, I could look at the recipe snippet above and say, "Meh, I'll do what I want." I'll put a cup of salt in place of a teaspoon of salt. I'll also forego the baking soda. That stuff doesn't do anything anyway! Soon you can imagine the trainwreck of a cake that's about to be thrown into the oven. And......would you want to try some for consumption?

 

    New Testament apostle Paul understood the importance of following the recipe for faith. He addressed this in a letter to the young minister Timothy. Paul warned Timothy to correct false or incorrect teachings in the Ephesian church. Paul's understanding of salvation followed a design (his own!). Sinners met the grace of God, realized their life of folly, confessed, repented, and pledged allegiance to the Lord. It was / is a pattern that brings people into the Kingdom of God. It is also the only way to receive the guiding power of God's Holy Spirit (Acts 10).  However, false teachers were circumventing the pattern Paul understood and used their own way to achieve salvation. In a sense they were replacing the 'teaspoon' of salt for a 'cup' of salt. False teachers were in a sense also saying, "Ahh, you don't need the 'baking soda' it doesn't do anything anyway."

    

        "As I urged you when I went into Macedonia, stay there in Ephesus so that you may command certain

        men not to teach false doctrines any longer nor to devote themselves to myths and endless

        genealogies. These promote controversies rather than God’s work—which is by faith. The goal of this

        command is love, which comes from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith. Some have

        wandered away from these and turned to meaningless talk. They want to be teachers of the law, but

        they do not know what they are talking about or what they so confidently affirm.                           

        (1 Timothy 1:3-7, NIV)

 

As a pastor, my ears are always attuned to things people say about God and faith. I discern these words and see if they follow the biblical pattern for salvation. If I hear salvation descriptions that skip some of the ingredients or inflate measurements, I listen more intently.

    There is a growing movement by many folks to turn away from the biblical narrative of salvation and faith and move toward a more 'humanistic' approach.  In other words, I have heard people talk of their new faith yet they still entertain a lifestyle of sin. Their response to this paradox is, "God loves me just the way I am." When the foundation of our faith, the Holy Bible, is jettisoned, then any number of recipe interpretations of salvation become possible. I would argue that none of those options will lead to the hoped outcome.         

     Frankly, if we all remain the same sinful person and claim Christ as our Savior, then we have excluded an ingredient or inflated a measurement over another.  Omitting confession (admitting our sinfulness) or repentance (turning away from) doesn't hold us accountable to our sin. While God's grace is free, it shouldn't be cheapened by our own interpretation of God's recipe for salvation. The by product of our own interpretive baking decisions makes for unknown cakes and likewise supposed salvation 

apart from God's design leads to distasteful ends.

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