I’d rather be a clutch bag than a champagne bottle.
Bear with me, I know this is a weird way to start. But if you watched the first episode of the new Great British Bake Off series, you’ll (hopefully) know what I mean. For the confused among you, let me explain.
The ‘showstopper’ round of Tuesday’s show required the bakers to create an ‘illusion cake’ – a cake that looked like something else entirely. And boy, did they deliver. From a Russian doll to a stack of pancakes, the variety and creative genius was something else.
When it came round to judging, however, not just appearance was taken into account. As Paul and Prue kept reminding the bakers, ‘it’s got to taste good as well’.
It was there that it got interesting. Cakes that looked absolutely incredible – like the champagne bottle on ice, which a bouncer apparently once mistook for the real thing – were declared to be ‘surprisingly dry’. Other cakes which were less impressive to behold, such as the underwhelmingly decorated black clutch bag, were deemed to taste ‘delicious’.
Our culture places a large value on outward appearance. If something looks good, we often assume that it is good. But if something is underwhelming in appearance, we don’t think it’s worth our time. We may even think that about ourselves.
The Bible, however, suggests otherwise. It is clear from 1 Samuel 16 that God does not judge by outward appearance, but by what is in the heart. In cake terms, this is the clutch bag – looks average, but tastes amazing.
Paul goes even further in his second letter to the Corinthians, writing that we have ‘this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us’. Our weakness is not a barrier for God; it just allows his strength to shine through.
It is here, sadly, that my cake analogy crumbles. There’s no point in suggesting that the poor outward appearance of the clutch bag cake showed the baker’s true skill in flavour because, as ever, there were some cakes that both looked and tasted amazing.
My point, however, still stands. Outward appearance is far less important than what is inside – character and faith. And God’s glory can be revealed through us despite our weaknesses.
After all, we all know that the proof of the pudding is in the eating.