Pastor’s Thoughts March 4th, 2023

I was on vacation recently which took me ultimately to the blue sky, sunshine, and 80-degree temperatures…which was a nice break from typical western New York February weather. But I made an intermediate stop to visit my youngest daughter, Megan, and her husband, Juan.

Juan works in the IT field but is also an excellent cook. He can take any ingredients that he has on hand and make a scrumptious meal out of them. That is a skill I simply don’t possess. But I am trying to learn.

He made an egg-based breakfast one morning that was delicious. I told him to expect an email from me to get the, well, recipe. For eggs.

You see, I tend to be a process guy. That is, when I am making something or assembling a do-it-yourself project, or replacing parts on a car, I prefer a documented process. In the case of breakfast, for example, a process might read, step one: crack the eggs into a bowl. Step two: mix them up. Step three: mix in the ingredients in the following measure…etc. Juan, however, sent me the ingredient list and said, “Just a little of each. If you use too much of any one thing the taste won’t be right.”

Now, some of your natural cooks out there are saying, “So…what’s the problem? That’s how you cook.” Others are saying, “Buy a cookbook.” (I should, I guess).

As I was cleaning up breakfast (it was just okay…I need to add more of something and less of something else), I began to think about how the concept of a process is fine for some things, like manufacturing items, but isn’t so good for other things. Like developing friendships. Or falling in love. Or worshipping God.

Throughout history people, even well-intentioned people, have tried to make worshipping God a process. The result is that we have generations of people that belief becoming a child of God involves doing more good things than bad things; mixing the right ingredients so to speak. Giving to the poor, attending church on a regular basis, or making sure you contribute to the collection plate would be positive ingredients. By contrast, using bad language, being angry, and avoiding church would be negative ingredients. By the way, there is nothing at all wrong with doing good things, and we should certainly avoid the negative. But whipping up that recipe, adding lots of good, or positive ingredients, while sifting out the bad, or negative ingredients, alone doesn’t bring about the desired result, which is pleasing God.

Is there an alternative to worshipping God as a process?

Jesus put it very simply when He was asked which commandment was the most important. His answer:

And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” (Mark 12:30-31)

Love God, Love your neighbor. Simple. That’s the instruction Jesus gave us. Can we do it?