“Marion, I need to talk. I’ve got questions.” Marion didn’t even have the receiver to her ear when Shelley blurted out her appeal. Shelley had found faith as well as a friend after joining her next-door neighbor’s weekly Bible study a few months before. She relied on Marion’s wisdom, evidence of her deep relationship with Jesus, but she also connected with her sense of humor and weakness for chocolate. They spent hours on the phone or in each other’s kitchens, hours when Shelley pounded Marion with questions.
“Well, I’d love to visit with you, but I’m in the middle of baking cookies for Robin’s grade school bake sale. If you don’t mind talking while I work, you’re welcome to come over.” In minutes, Shelley was seated in Marion’s kitchen with a cup of tea, the KitchenAid mixer whirring in the background.
“So, what’s up, Shel?” Marion blended eggs with the butter and sugar she had just creamed together.
“Well, I’m confused.” Shelley paused and then laughed. “Not as if that’s anything new! I’ve been thinking how little I know and what a rotten person I am compared with everyone else in the Bible study. You all seem to have it together, and I’m still sinning. I can’t imagine what they’d think of me if they knew all the bad stuff. Maybe I’m not really saved!”
Marion stirred the flour mixture in with the other ingredients. “Hey, I prayed with you the night you accepted Jesus; that was real. But Christians sin, sometimes more than non-Christians.”
“But we’re supposed to be holy! That’s in next week’s lesson; God says we have to be holy because He is. I know He forgave my sins on the cross, but what about my sins now? It seems like I’m worse than I was.” Shelley stared miserably into her cup. “I’ll never be like the rest of the people in the Bible study.”
“If the rest of us in the study are giving you the impression that we don’t sin, then maybe we all need to take a look at ourselves and be a little more honest.” Marion dumped the chocolate chips into the mixing bowl. Stirring the dough she continued, “Sometimes we put on our ‘church faces.’ We expect Christians to be a certain way, and if we think we don’t measure up, sometimes we just pretend. We need to be genuine. We all need Jesus’ forgiveness. When He died on the cross, you hadn’t sinned yet--why you didn’t even exist--all your sins were in the future, and His forgiveness was for all of them. Sure, God wants us to be holy, but it’s a process.”
Marion pointed her dough-filled spoon at her friend. “Shel, you know it’s just like making cookies. God uses all the raw ingredients of your life. You can’t see the end result in any one step of the process. Unless God stirs everything together and heats it, He won’t end up with cookies. God is the Master Baker, and He puts you through the process so He gets exactly what He wants, the perfect chocolate chip cookie. Or a holy and perfect Shelly, if you prefer.”
Shelly watched Marion pop the cookie sheets into the oven and silently stirred her tea. After a few minutes the oven timer buzzed, and a mouth-watering aroma filled the kitchen as Marion moved the cookies to the cooling racks.
“I swear, Marion, only you could come up with a theological explanation that involves chocolate!” Shelly grinned and removed one of the warm cookies from the rack.
Grabbing a cookie for herself, Marion observed, “Hey, I think it’s a pretty good analogy! How much closer can you get to perfection than a fresh, warm chocolate chip cookie? And you, dear friend, when the Master Baker gets done, will be among the best of the batch. Just be patient. You have a lot to learn, but the end result will be worth it!”
“You know what, Marion? You should serve chocolate chip cookies at Bible study this week. Then see if anyone else knows why Christians are like cookies. Maybe I’d know something they don’t know for a change!”
“Great idea! But right now we’d better get these cookies packed up before we devour them all. I don’t think gluttony is part of holiness!”
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