Last week one of the men in our men’s small group ministry shared with me a little about his Kairos Prison Ministry retreat that he had just been a part of.
One of the things he told me was that since the prisoners don’t often get to eat any sweets in prison, many of them volunteer to attend the Kairos weekend “for the cookies.” In other words, they want a less stressful weekend… some cookies and other good food… but not necessarily Jesus. He just happens to be there with the cookies.
My friend then commented about how wonderful it is for the men who run the retreat to watch the transformation of these same prisoners over the course of the weekend. On the first day of the retreat the prisoners almost boastfully declare that they are there for the cookies. However, over the course of the weekend, as the Spirit moves in and through the men, the Word, prayer, fellowship, testimonies, etc., those same “cookie-seeking” men (at least many of them) really do encounter Christ and are truly changed by his Spirit.
For those who “come to Christ” and his church for dubious reasons, God often “stoops to conquer.” That is, God will often show up and lavish his grace upon a person, regardless of why that person “thinks” he is there. When a person, even unwittingly, puts himself in the way of grace, Spirit-led change takes place.
Just think of these examples…
- People who “come to Jesus” to fix their marriage (but not because they want Jesus).
- Christmas Eve and Easter worship attenders who come twice a year, “religiously.” (because “you’re supposed to.”)
- People who start going to church because they’re trying to get out of legal trouble and want to make a good impression on the judge.
- Folks who start getting involved at church because they’re trying to get elected to office.
- Fill in the blank with 100 other examples.
It’s easy to judge such people. We think we know what’s going on in their hearts. And it is true that some folks do all of this and more and leave only having eaten a few cookies. To paraphrase C.S. Lewis, we are too easily pleased. A holiday at the shore is offered us, but we’re content making mud pies in a puddle. Yet, instead of judging such folks, let our hope be that they brush up against God’s grace and that God’s grace will be filed away in that person’s heart for God to use at a later time. That should be our prayer.
So let folks come for the cookies. And let us pray that they genuinely meet our Lord and come to know, love, and follow him… and stay with him for the feast.
Grace and Truth,