So you’re on Facebook, scrolling through the statuses on your home page, and you stop at one with a scrumptious looking cake photo attached. The status reads: “Knew you were coming, so I baked a cake! Oh, you’re not coming? All the more for me then! =D” “Thanks,” you think, while examining the drool-worthy dessert in more detail in large screen mode. You can see that it’s a layer cake, that it’s frosted with chocolate, and delightfully decorated with . . . things. Being hungry, you especially wish to try it even though you do not know everything about it. You don’t know the flavor of the cake itself, or what the center filling is, or if the frosting is made with lard, butter, or cream cheese (mmmmm . . . ). You can’t even smell it. It’s just an image that you can contemplate and imagine about, not something you can experience.
With blood sugar low and a mouth full of extra saliva, you go out to the nearest bakery and look at the cakes with the hope of taking one home. Looking at the array of cakes, you wonder how you’re going to decide which to actually get. There’s cream and coffee laden Tiramisu, coconutty German Chocolate, strawberry-topped white, lemon with lemon curd, Chocolate Death, and even a delicate and complex Princess cake. Oh dear. You can smell some of the flavors, you can think about what each may taste like, and you can see their beauty. You cannot taste each one before you buy, however, yet you want to choose the one that will truly satisfy your craving. Finally, your choice is made and you take one home.
What happens when you are alone with the cake, fork in hand? You take a bite, of course, and another . . . In your mouth, you taste it and finally know all you need to know about the cake and whether it satisfies your craving. First you had seen an image of a cake and you knew a little about it; you gained some knowledge of cake. Second, you sought after cake to find out more and perhaps experience it. Once you were around a cake that you could see and smell, you had a certain level of experience with it, learning more about cake and that particular cake. Then, by taking it in and tasting it, you experienced it as much as is possible and it became a part of you. You could tell if it satisfied your craving, or if you had to seek after a different cake.
Why this exercise? There are many people out there today who look into God and have a level of knowledge about Him that is like the type and amount of information that was available from our Facebook cake photo example. The information imparted is simply shallow data; if the person had no previous knowledge of cake, then the information imparted would be very limited indeed. But they stop there and think they know enough to say “I don’t believe in God because there is not enough evidence to support my belief. Besides, someone could’ve just made up that information” (Isa 5:21; Matt 11:25b/Luke 10:21b; 1 Cor 1:18-25). Others, on the other hand, understand that the image and level of information imparted is only a foretaste and so search for more information. They search through cakes–gods and religions**–until they have enough information, and perhaps experience, to choose the one true God. Once they do, they partake and believe (Matt 7:7-8/Luke 11:9-10, John 3:3). Their believing faith is born and the Lord indwells them (unlike the cake, the Lord stays).
* Or, A soteriological cupcake.
** Some “search” less and find God with less fuss. This short essay in no way covers all the various aspects of salvation theology!