As I sat in The Stupe with our youth intern from Wheaton College this past Monday during our bi-weekly meetings, I checked in to see how she was doing with the recent devastating news that one of her profs had been arrested.
She quickly affirmed her surprise, her profound sadness and disappointment that one of her teachers had apparently run afoul of the law in such a fashion. As the coffee brewed and the lively conversation buzzed all around us, she solemnly shared observing two primary reactions from her fellow students–either indifference or condemnation–both of which bothered her. As she prayed for her prof and thought about his predicament,
out of compassion for him, a part of her just wanted to bake him some cookies and deliver them to him in jail. She shared that although she didn’t endorse his behavior, she hoped the Church wouldn’t abandon him at his greatest time of need.
The thought of those fresh-baked cookies reminds me of when I was a student at Wheaton and my favorite prof, Dr. Lyle Dorsett, often hosted what he would call “cookie pushes” at his house just off campus–an evening where he and his gracious wife, Mary, would open their home, to welcome his students with the warmth of Christ’s hospitality, good conversation and fresh-baked cookies all around. I loved those gatherings at the Dorsett’s!
In the case of this young student’s beautiful, impulsive reaction to the news of her prof’s apparent fall from grace, warm cookies from the oven certainly can’t cover the devastating consequences of sin, but they do quietly affirm what we believe to be absolutely true of Christ: his restorative, forgiving heart of compassion for all of us sinners–”he emptied himself of all but love” (Charles Wesley, “And Can It Be?”). Dallas Willard once wrote that we don’t need bigger churches but bigger Christians, “flush w/ Christ’s character.” (Foreward to The Renovation of the Church, Carlson & Lueken, IVP, 2011; p. 10)
I’m so pleased to see God graciously at work in this young intern, filling her to the “whole measure of the fullness of Christ” (Eph. 4:13 NIV). Given the same set of discouraging circumstances, may I be as mindful of what Christ’s reaction would be to those in need around me.
And please pass (or “push”) those cookies.