About once a year, my wife fixes a batch of Springerle cookies for me. I don’t know the exact recipe she uses, but the tradition of these cookies (often baked around Christmas) is one that I remember from my great-grandmother. These cookies are flavored with anise, which makes them safe from being pilfered by most others in my family, since only one of my sons likes this flavor1.
The default recipe makes huge amount of cookies, and a full batch probably originally supplied enough for an entire village to share (or for a family to enjoy throughout the entire winter). One year, before my wife began to make much smaller fractions of the full recipe, I was enjoying my holiday snacks, but started to have a persistent sore throat. A little head-cold isn’t uncommon during the winter months; however, I eventually realized that I was eating so many of these cookies that the anise flavoring was actually burning my throat!
I can be taught (really!), so I scaled back and started to enjoy these traditional cookies in moderation. They also freeze well, to be brought out in a few months.
However, imagine if other family or friends liked these cookies as much as I did, and started to suffer the same sore throat. Would I keep the solution to myself? Would I feel superior to them because I had found the secret? Would I look down on them because they were in pain and I was comfortable?
I would hope that I’d be a nice guy, and explain that the anise extract / oil needs to be taken in moderation. They would be happier, and – if they listened to me and slowed down – the cookies would also last longer for all of us.
There is a common misconception that followers of Jesus are “better than” other people. I’m not sure where this idea came from; it’s certainly not found in the teachings of Jesus and His disciples. The concept that one person is morally superior to another vanishes when our actions are all compared to the holiness of God, and we find that we all fall short.
Unfortunately, this misconception includes both Christians and those who are not Christians. Giving the benefit of the doubt to those who believe this erroneous philosophy, I’d like to think that it’s purely ignorance: just a lack of understanding of what Jesus taught. That ignorance may be excusable for those who haven’t read the Bible, but I fear that sometimes even the truth can be masked by pride for those who should know better.
For this part of the article, let’s pause and let that point sink in: those who follow Jesus, and really understand His teachings, realize that every one of us deserves punishment for our sins. As a result, Christians differ primarily in the fact that they – like me and the “caustic cookies” described above – have both 1) learned of a solution (a gift, in fact), and 2) actually taken advantage of that solution (allowing us to be healed in eternity, even if the pang of sin and its consequences continues to sting while we remain on earth).
May we who have found the cure for the permanent consequences of sin appreciate that it is a gift, and be willing to distribute that cure for others who are still suffering from the disease of sin.
Then, let’s take a look (in the second part of this article) at a couple of questions to think more deeply about the implications of this concept.
- The flavor of anise can also be found in pizzelles and black licorice. While pizzelles typically have a mild enough flavor to appeal to a wide audience, black licorice is perhaps one of the most polarizing foods of the modern era. Most people either like or are disgusted by the latter. Maybe society could bridge gaps and resolve conflict by finding people on both sides of a disagreement, but bringing them together based on who can at least agree on how they feel about black licorice? ↩
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