Today’s post is written by special guest Rachel Baker. Rachel will be speaking at Dignified’s upcoming retreat, “Come Away With Me.” For more info on and to sign up for our retreat, click here.
When I was in the 5th grade our school did a monthly cupcake sale. In early spring it was my classroom’s turn to bake and sell cupcakes. My mom took me to the store and bought me all the necessary ingredients—sprinkles and double fudge frosting.
We stood side-by-side in the kitchen preparing the cupcakes. As the cupcakes baked we set the frosting out, at that very moment my mom was pulled away by a knock at the door. While my mom was out of the kitchen I opened the frosting, dipped a spoon in and ate a whole mouthful of delicious topping. Then, I did it again, spoonful after spoonful of creamy, luxurious, silky and yummy frosting.
I ate half the container before my mom returned, horrified and explained that we couldn’t use my now germ-infested frosting for the bake sale, fortunately we had also bought vanilla. We took the cupcakes out of the oven and frosted them with the uncontaminated topping. As we worked together my head started to get warm, my cheeks flushed and suddenly my stomach turned. I ran to the bathroom just in time to be ill.
I didn’t eat frosting again for over a decade.
Has this ever happened to you? Have you ever taken something good and overused it to the point that it became harmful to you?
In the gospel of Luke, chapter 11, we find Jesus having interesting interactions with the Pharisees. Historically, these people were “good” people attempting to preserve God’s word and law. During Jesus’ ministry, however, the Pharisees had become obsessed with law and ritual, vigorously observing Mosaic law’s 613 commandments. These laws—while rooted in the 10 Commandments and the Abrahamic covenant—were manmade and created to clarify the commandments. The Pharisees, in general, had shifted from observing the spirit of the law and settled into legalism.
Generation after generation of religious elite sculpted Mosaic law—a good thing—into something oppressive, stifling, and unattainable. In Matthew 23:27 Jesus does not mince words with the religious: “27 Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of dead men’s bones and everything unclean. 28 In the same way, on the outside you appear to people as righteous but on the inside you are full of hypocrisy and wickedness.”
Rather than serving their community with a sweet spoonful of frosting they shoved spoonful after spoonful down their throats. The result: A people group desperately broken and seeking salvation yet largely unable to acknowledge their Savior when he stood right in front of them.
I think if we were to sit—uncomfortably—with ourselves for a moment we might have to confess that we too are guilty of doing the same thing. It’s human nature, to seek religion and law, even though Christ came to fulfill it. We take what is to be a relationship and turn it into religion. We do it over and over again, because we’re human, we often don’t know what’s good for us, we’re children eating frosting. We take something good and perfected and apply our own brokenness and need for control on it.
Serving Jesus, doesn’t always look the way we think it should. It’s messy, not because God is messy, but because we are. In our mess we try to take good things and manipulate them to serve our personal agendas, to create control, to hold tight to our own perceptions and preconceived notions of “what things should be like.”
Instead, we need to cling to the gospel desperately, we need to become biblically literate. The more we can lean into biblical truth the more we can relax. Honoring our Father and making Him known doesn’t require a clean home or grand gestures. Honoring our Father and making Him known can be a simple as dropping off a meal, inviting a stranger at work to lunch or simply being available in a time-starved world to have a conversation.
I’m working on this, letting go of control, creating more margin in my life for those around me. Sitting with friends, sharing a cupcake enjoying the frosting and savoring the good thing, the good gift that Christ is. It’s funny how difficult it can be to lean into simplicity and slowness, but I’m learning that God did not create our souls for the breakneck, nor did he create us to abide to some unachievable law, we are created to observe and share the good news, rather than to be stifled by too much of a good thing.
About the author:
Rachel Baker is a writer, Women’s Ministry leader and Pastor’s wife who is passionate about sharing gospel truths through her messy life. She claims God’s redemption on her life and desperately wants those around her to know Christ as she knows Him.
Rachel is currently serving in ministry in the Salt Lake Valley, Utah where she works with an incredible team of women leaders to make Christ known and share the freedom of the gospel. She frequently speaks for her local MOPs chapter as well as at retreats and women’s gatherings.
Additionally, Rachel has written for Pastors.com, Lifeway’s Journey Devotional Magazine, and semi-regularly posts on her own personal blog. She is currently working on a project specifically geared towards young women in ministry.
Rachel earned her B.A. from California State University, Fullerton. She is married to Kile Baker, Pastor at South Mountain Community Church – West Jordan, her children are London and Emma.
You can keep up with Rachel at: