Thanks to Pinterest, I’ve now opened the door of an oven. Oh, and yes, I’ve actually put food in it and turned it on, thank you very much. Last week I tried the recipe for “The World’s Best Chicken”:
Well, maybe not the best in the world, but good enough. At least this time my chicken turned out moist. (Hint: poke holes in the meat and pour salt on it before baking). Here’s the glitch, though: I followed the directions to a T, making sure to add the ingredients exactly as the recipe stated. The sweet and sour combination of mustard to maple syrup wasn’t quite right to me. I personally think the ratio should have been 1:1 in hindsight, but that’s just me. Had I tasted it before adding the sauce to the chicken, I think I would have made a better dish.
Here’s another one I made in the same dinner:
Yum! Now who wouldn’t enjoy a piping hot dish of buttery bread? Probably no one, unless it is soaking in enough butter to shock Paula Deen.
Which is was…but all I was doing was following the directions. After buttering each biscuit, it told me to pour the remaining butter into the crockpot, so that’s what I did…even though the pot was already greased and the dough was glistening with the yellow stuff as it was.
Now, I’m being factitious about the amount of butter, really. It was a bit much for me, but I was so focused on following the recipe I didn’t think to adjust it.
Then it occurred to me how following a recipe to the letter is a lot like being legalistic in the Christian life. By “legalistic” I mean depending on a works-based “letter of the law” mentality rather than God’s grace for salvation, which inspires the good works, not vice-versa.
Living a life that is pleasing to the Lord does not exist simply by adding a pinch of church, a dash of prayer, and a portion of Bible Study. We expect to mechanically mix these elements together and come up with an end result, an offering that makes us acceptable to God. But is it?
Staying with the illustration, we’ve all heard that good cooks add love to their work, that the food is created with a heart to the one being served. That means that they don’t just go through the motions to prepare a dish. They are thoughtful and have an insatiable desire to create a delicious meal. They are invested in providing for and catering to those at the table.
In the same way, the Christian life is meant to be lived authentically. We serve, not to mechanically follow the law, but to do so out of love, out of an appetite (pardon the pun) to give glory to God.
And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. (Colossians 3:17)
Yes, works are important, but they are a reflection and result of faith, an expression of gratitude of our salvation through Christ.
And that’s what it boils down to.
If we are not saved by works, what did James, the brother of Jesus, mean when he wrote, “faith without works is dead?” (James 2:17)
Anyone have any theological insights? If not, I’ll take a cooking tip! 🙂