My wife is an excellent cook. She can make anything – except pie crusts. She has told me that pie crusts are the one thing that she will buy rather than make because they are difficult to do. Yet as hard as they are to make, they aren’t very durable. Pie crusts are light, delicate and easily broken.
In His Sermon on the Mount, Jesus gives a summary of the law of God with a statement that crushed every pie crust testimony of every scribe, Pharisee and hypocrite in His audience:
Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect. (Matthew 5:48)
There is no place for hollow, pie crust followers of Christ. So, what does Jesus mean when He says “be ye therefore perfect.” Perfect means “complete,” and in this context, it also implies sincerity and integrity of character. There are many believers who have entered into a relationship with Christ by trusting Him as Savior but who have allowed their relationship with Him to become hollow. Instead of a relationship that has become stronger and more solid with the passing years, it has become more a testament of endurance than fellowship. How does that happen? It happens when, like the Pharisees, we reduce our walk with the Lord down to a list of rules and make it more like a recipe than a relationship.
Anyone can do a checklist. Went to church, check. Ready my Bible, check. Memorized a verse, check. Building a relationship requires thought, devotion, intent. Spiritual growth does not come at the end of a checklist. It comes through intentional devotion to Christ. Of course, a spiritual believer goes to church, reads the Bible, memorizes Scripture, etc. But he doesn’t do these things to appear to be in fellowship with God. He does these things because he is in fellowship with God and wants to know Him more. Because this is true of his relationship to God, his character naturally reflects that and stands up to scrutiny. Pie crust Christians don’t endure scrutiny. Any amount of pressure on their lives, and their hypocrisy shows. The sad thing is that a pie crust Christian will spend just as much time and effort keeping up appearances as a mature Christian will spend growing his relationship with the Lord.
The difference comes down to focus. A mature Christian has his focus on eternity and will invest his efforts there regardless of what others think. Consider Noah who built an ark at God’s command. The world must have thought he was insane. Who knows the amount of ridicule he must have endured? But Noah was not concerned with appearances. He had his focus on God.
A pie crust Christian is only concerned with how he looks to others. Yes, he’ll get praise and approval, but only from those as temporary as himself. He’ll have nothing to say for himself before God. As Jesus said of the scribes, Pharisees, and hypocrites, the pie crust Christian will have his reward in this life. But what good is that in eternity?