Apple Pie

Thanksgiving is just around the corner. Thanksgiving = Pie time. I know, apple pies are not traditional Thanksgiving pies, but I heard this illustration using apple pies a couple weeks ago at College Ministry, and I really liked it. And I expanded on it a little. Apple pies are a lot like our spiritual lives. Really, they’re like our lives in general, but I’ll stick with the spiritual aspect of it for this illustration. I’ll just speak from the perspective of baking an apple pie, and instead of insulting your intelligence by making all the connections for you, I’ll let you do that on your own. I’ll interject where I feel like an interjection may be necessary, but for the most part, you should be able to see the connections.

In order to make an apple pie, we need specific ingredients, right? Right. Specific ingredients are essential to a fulfilling and satisfying pie. For example, apples. Apples are definitely necessary to make an apple pie. Sugar. I don’t know about you, but an apple pie without sugar (or any sweetener) would not be satisfying. In fact, it’ll probably be disgusting. Butter, flour, etc. etc. I think you get the point. There are essentials to a fulfilling and satisfying pie.

Then, there are the things that will definitely be terrible to add to the pie. For example, the pie would literally be ruined if you were to add a pound of mayonnaise to the pie. Why would you even do that? Or, what if you added pickles in the filling? That’s just gross. Or spaghetti sauce? Yum, right?! Ok, I don’t think I need to beat this dead horse any more. Certain things can definitely ruin a pie and make it unsatisfying, if not completely inedible.

Then there’s the cooking method. Who in his right mind would microwave an apple pie? NOT ME! I mean, microwaving could be a tempting cooking method. After all, it’s quick, easy, and it might work. But deep down, even before you put the pie in the microwave, you know it’s not going to be as good as if you just put it in the oven and wait. Be patient and wait for the process to run its course. *Interjection*(Sanctification is like us baking! It takes time and it takes patience.)  To take a short, sort-of detour, sex outside of marriage is kind of like this whole “microwaving” process. Yeah, it’s quick, it’s easy, it requires no patience, but essentially, it’s not nearly as fulfilling as sex inside marriage. Or so I’ve heard. I wouldn’t know seeing as I’m not married.

Now, this is the part I added.

Although certain ingredients will definitely create a fulfilling and satisfying pie, and certain things will definitely create a pie that will not be fulfilling, there are also the optional ingredients. The gray areas. Although every apple pie has some of the same essential ingredients, most of them differ in the amounts of these ingredients, and some of them may even have additional ingredients. For example, some people may want to add cinnamon to their pie. Is it essential? No. But does it make it worse? No. Or, some people may want a latticed top. Others may want a solid top with slits in it. Does it really make a difference? No. And this is usually where arguments arise.

We need to realize that all the essential ingredients are the same in every apple pie and stop fighting over whether or not the pie needs cinnamon.

Here’s the sermon on which I based the majority of this. Just look on the left-hand side and click on the podcast from 11/06/2011 entitled, The Empty Church: Stir It Up. http://www.gracepoint.org/index.cfm/PageID/2155/index.html

Context, Context, Context

As many of you may or may not know, I graduated from a Bible college this past April. One thing that was drilled into our heads was that we have to know the context of a verse or passage before we quote it, use it in a sermon, or even reference it in speaking to people. Without the context, the verse or passage can look and mean something completely different to different people depending on their experiences, perceptions, thoughts, etc. and can be used for something completely opposite of what the verse or passage was originally intended. Don’t worry; this isn’t a rant on biblical interpretations.

Instead, this is a “rant” about formulating opinions about people in relation to knowing the context of people’s lives. What is said about biblical interpretation can also be said of interpreting people. “Interpreting” is merely a euphemism for judging. So often, we make hasty judgments of people based on isolated incidents or maybe even a number of isolated incidents pieced together to form our “accurate” judgment or opinion of someone. But we can’t just base our ideas of people based on what they do. People are a composite of their experiences. So, we can look at a girl who wears revealing clothing and is throwing herself at guys and call her a slut. I mean, look at all the “evidence.” But when we look closer, we see that these are simply verses. We need to know the context. When we get to know her story, we realize that, oh, she was raped when she was young. And, oh, because of the damage that was done, the only way she can feel loved and accepted by guys is by throwing herself at them and wearing revealing clothing. Does it make what she’s doing right? Absolutely not. But what this does is it brings precision to how we will approach her. It brings precision to how we can love her in a way that she feels accepted and knows that she is worth more than what she believes she is worth.

Another example. We can look at an annoying kid and write him off as just that. An annoying kid who is just super needy, selfish, attention-seeking, mean, and just a brat. But when we look at the context we see that, oh, his older brother has severe autism and has the mental capacity of an infant. And, oh, he doesn’t get attention from his parents since they’re so busy with his brother, and so the only way he can get attention is by being that annoying kid. Because even if he’s getting negative attention by getting in trouble, at least people are paying attention to him. Again, does this make what he’s doing right? Not at all. But now that we know the context of his life, we can meet his needs and it, again, brings precision to our love of that kid who just wants to be valued and accepted. Just like the rest of us.

Am I saying that every annoying kid probably has a brother with a disability and that every girl who dresses provocatively was raped when she was younger? Of course not. But what I am saying is that people have a lot more going on, or have a lot more that they’ve been through than we can ever imagine or that we may ever think. So, before we formulate opinions about people, we have to know the context of their lives.

Balloons

I was thinking about balloons the other day. Yes, balloons. Balloons are interesting little things. Have you ever played with balloons with differing amounts of air in them? Or maybe you have, as most kids have, played the game where you couldn’t let the balloon hit the ground, but you couldn’t hold them either. You just had to keep bouncing it up to the next person. Well, this is what I was thinking about, and I found a neat parallel between this childhood game and people— people who are hurting. For those of you who have played the game I described, you might have (or maybe might not have) noticed that the more air the balloons had, the easier keeping them up was. In other words, the more air they had, the less effort you had to put forth to keep them floating and keep them from hitting the ground. The balloons that didn’t have much air in them at all were the ones that required the most effort and also these balloons were a little more unpredictable in the direction they would move when you bounced them up, especially if they were lopsided and not completely round. And it took everybody that was on one balloon to really work together to keep the balloon afloat. If people weren’t at least somewhat paying attention, the balloon would likely hit the ground. And also, if one person tried to bounce the balloon all on his own, he wouldn’t be able to pay attention to where he was going and could run into a tree or something. Then the balloon would fall.

Now.

Imagine that the balloons with the most air in them are the people in this world who don’t really have any immediate needs, whether it be emotional, spiritual, or physical. Yeah, they need some type of support system, but not too much. Just enough to keep them afloat. And honestly, just as with the balloons, if the person doesn’t have any pressing or immediate needs, he could get away with just having one person as his “support.”  That support could still carry on without interrupting his own life too much. However, if that support, whether it be a person or a group of people, stopped being intentional and stopped supporting the balloon, even if it was minimally, then the balloon would float down until eventually it would hit the ground. It would be a steady downfall, but a downfall nonetheless. Then there are the balloons that don’t have much air in them at all. Maybe even deflated completely. These are the people that are in a crisis. These are the people that, if you aren’t supporting them, or not giving them much attention, they’re bound to hit the floor—rock bottom. These people require the intentionality of the people around them more than others might. Now, just as in the game, you should not hold people completely, and oftentimes, you cannot hold people completely. People need the opportunity to grow on their own while being supported, so to hold them completely would be doing them a disservice. And also, these are the people who need a group of people supporting them. If one person tried to do it on his own, he would have to spend so much of his own attention and energy on keeping that person “afloat” that he wouldn’t be able to focus on his own life and may end up running into a tree, causing the other person to hit the ground anyway.

I think we’re all somewhere on this continuum. The challenge is knowing where on this continuum we fall, and also, knowing where the people around us are on this continuum. Now, I haven’t thought this completely through, so there are likely to be logical fallacies, but regardless, I think some of this does hold some truth. And I just like the idea of balloons.