A few years ago, Kim was gone to a ladies meeting at church. I was at home with the kids and was responsible for supper. In her typical motherly way, Kim made the menu and even laid out the ingredients for–you guessed it–mac and cheese. After all, what kid does not love mac and cheese. Personally I am tired of it, but the kids love it.

On her way out the door, Kim gave me instructions. I wish I could say that I was listening, but I had something else on my mind and, after all, it is only mac and cheese. So with a look of concern for the welfare of her children, Kim walked out the door.

A short time passed, and it was time to eat. So I put the water in the pot, turned on the stove, and went to work. Some time later, I returned, drained the noodles, poured on the cheese, and then called the kids. As I looked at my creation, I thought that something did not look right, but I was too busy to investigate.

As we ate supper, I noticed that the kids did not eat very much. Normally our boys devour what is in front of them with an energy rarely seen by man. But on this night, they played with their food more than they ate it. I did notice, however, they seemed really eager for some desert. (All of this should have been a clue).

Later that night, I broke a cardinal rule, a rule that I have learned the hard way over the years. Whenever I cook, no matter what I cook, I must always get rid of the evidence. It is never a good idea for Kim to see my culinary creations. That was especially true on this night.

When Kim got home, she marched to the kitchen. Moments later a her voiced sounded forth with a tone of disbelief. “Did you feed this to my babies?” I responded with characteristic wit. “What are you talking about?” I figured my question would stall her long enough for me to figure out why she was upset. “This,” she said as thrusts a cold pot in front of me. It was the mac and cheese. What could be the problem?, I thought.

The problem was the words that I thought remained in my head leaked out my mouth. “The problem,” she said, “is that the noodles are not cooked.” Evidently I turned the stove on low and never brought the noodles to a boil. (Sorry kids. At least you will have a story to tell).

One of the many lessons I learned over the next few minutes was this: boiled noodles, noodles where heat and water have softened them to the point of usefulness, are a necessary ingredient to mac and cheese.

Similarly, the Christian life has a necessary ingredient. As a matter of fact, without this you do not have an authentic Christian life. Without it beautiful words are noise; mountain moving faith is nothing; and heroic sacrifice means nothing. What is this missing ingredient? It is love. Without the heat of God’s loving melting and molding our hearts and inspiring our actions, all our actions are empty and irritating.

If we are not controlled and compelled by the love of Christ with love for people, we are simply not representing the God of love as we should. May we be a people of love. Without it we are nothing more than crunchy mac and cheese, and a lost world stays hungry.

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