One of the many things that my wife and I started to do during the pandemic lockdown in 2020 was to start baking. To bake, you need three basic items – flour, water, and yes, an oven. Of course, you can check out Youtube for the many creative ways of baking without an oven, like using a cast iron pot on top of a stove, but the oven is usually the safest, easiest, and preferred. So why did I only started baking in 2020 even though I moved into my current place in 2015? Was it because I didn’t have an oven? Well, no, the oven was installed on the first day I moved into the house. Was it because I didn’t have access to water? That’s a ridiculous assumption in modern-day Singapore. Was it because I can’t buy flour. Nope. So why did I abandon my oven for the past five years? I think I can narrow it down to two main reasons – comfort and convenience.
In Singapore, food is available everywhere. I only have to walk five minutes before I am offered a choice of over 30 food stalls to choose from. From Chinese to Indian, Italian to Malay, you can almost find anything you want at your doorstep. Add to it the fact that many of the stalls are open 24 hours or at the very least till late at night.
Apart from the convenience of ready-cooked food, baking is also not a standard feature of Asian cooking. Not in my comfort zone of stir-fry and rice. So why did I start baking in 2020? Again, two main reasons. We were stuck and had cravings. The convenience of ready-cooked food was taken away during the lockdown and my wife’s sudden craving for homemade pizza. My wife reminded me that one of the ways I won her heart was making pizza for her – a skill I am thankful I learned while working in a pizzeria during my University days. I am glad to inform you that the new hobby we picked up had proven fun and enjoyable, and we are still baking now that things have calmed down and shops have reopened.
So why are we talking about baking and pizza? Well, it is in response to Dr. Dueker’s post: A Dangerous Question & An Affective Encounter. He described the rich young ruler’s question toward Jesus and Jesus’ Affective response in his post. He described Jesus asking the young man to “sell what you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me” as a reply to the young man’s question and pointed out that it was clear that Jesus “loved him”. In the stream of Affective Spirituality, how was it possible that the young man still rejected Jesus’ offer? That was my sticky point. Dr. Dueker suggests that the key was by “cutting off any love that demands a greater loyalty than that to Christ”. This led me to ponder on the point of cutting – who does it? Is it the young man’s responsibility, or the Spirit’s? Regardless, the young man still rejected Jesus.
So here comes my tie-up; I think similar to my case of the abandoned oven, the young man approached Jesus out of his comfort and convenience and only sought to enhance it by having eternal life. He was not looking for a relationship only a transaction. Even though I had access to flour, water, and a beautiful oven, I still chose not to bake. I had no motivator. The young man has access to God’s Trinitarian work in his life, but until God’s love turns his attention from self to God, he will not recognize his deepest need and desire. The motivation for his question to Jesus was unfortunately still self-serving – a human form of self-love. It took my wife’s prompting and reminder for me to start baking, and because I loved her, I did. I didn’t do it out of obligation or responsibility. I did it for love.
So will he say yes one day? The Bible doesn’t tell us, but I believe an Affective God will never let him go without a fight.