Give Them More Than Icing
2 Timothy 4:1–5 (ESV) — I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom: preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching. For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths. As for you, always be sober-minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.
The whir of the beaters as they spun bliss into existence called to us. The smell of sugar hung in the air like a culinary Pied Piper, drawing my siblings and I out from hiding. In chaotic procession we would file into the kitchen, clamouring for precedence in the maternal blessing of the mixing bowl.
This whole process, of course, was accompanied by a wide variety of the same complaint, “She had the bowl last time.”, or, “It’s my turn to lick the spoon—it’s not fair." Frosting does funny things to kids.
And though my memories are filled with joy around this weekly ritual that accompanied my mother's baking, and though it obviously filled us with great delight to slurp up the sticky bowls and beaters layered with sugared cream, I have no memories of my parents ever sitting us down to a solid serving of icing for our evening meal. Funny that!
Of course, time has swung full circle, and I now find myself as the adjudicator of complex discussions revolving around who's turn it is to lick the mixing spoon. I enter the fray with all the diplomacy I can muster, after all, bowl licking is serious business. Yet, like my parents before me, I have never said to my wife, "Oh bone of my bone, and flesh of my flesh, please serve us up a delicious dish of frosting tonight."
We know better than that. The temporal joy of frosting off a spoon cannot replace the substance and long-term benefit of a carefully balanced, nutritious, but also tasty meal.
We know this in the kitchen, but it seems it is a forgotten reality in many of our churches.
Cotton-Candy preaching produces Cotton-Candy Christians.
The type of preaching that serves up moral imperatives with just enough 'Jesus' to make it seem fitting for a church setting, ridicules the gospel and undermines the only foundation a Christian may securely stand on. You may think it's 'what they want to hear—what'll put bums on seats', but while Jesus is ever presented as simply the icing on the cake, it's not the gospel that's being preached. The gospel with Jesus on the side is no gospel at all.
Jesus is more than frosted sprinkles.
Give them grace in all its God-given glory. Give them Jesus as the all-satisfying substance of their soul. Give them a foundation of gospel truth that will so fill their spirit that the cravings for the world's menu will be forgotten. Give them a meal that will do more than tickle their taste-buds—a meal that will build the bone and marrow of their walk with Christ.
Give them more than icing.