Hosea writes, “My people of Israel mingle with godless foreigners, picking up their evil ways. Now they have become a half-baked cake!” (Hosea 7:8) Have you ever put too much water or milk in the batter, take the cake out of the oven too soon, only to find that it is not done in the middle? Our testing method is to stick a butter knife into the center of it to see if it comes back wet or dry. The normal context of the phrase “half-baked” concerns an idea or plan that is not fully developed. Some people roll out a business plan before they have thought through it. This is easy to do. Someone gets an idea on how to make money which sounds pretty good in theory. They become so enthused that they jump right in and go to work. However, they did not think it through, and they failed. Jesus spoke of this in Luke 14. “Don’t begin until you count the cost. For who would begin construction of a building without first getting estimates and then checking to see if there is enough money to pay the bills? Otherwise, you might complete only the foundation before running out of funds. And then how everyone would laugh at you! They would say, ‘There’s the person who started that building and ran out of money before it was finished.’” (Luke 14:28-30) A similar phrase is “half-cocked.” This is when you don’t pull the hammer of the gun back far enough, only to find when you squeeze the trigger that you don’t have enough force for the gun to fire. But I think there is something more going on here.
Hosea says that the Israelites have mingled with foreigners, and this has caused the cake to be half-baked. There is something about the cake’s ingredients that is causing it not to fully cook. It may have too much liquid in it. Here is a more fitting application, in my opinion. It can be true of a Christian or a church. Both can have too much “world” embedded in them to fully cook, to come to maturity. Jesus was baking the gospel into his twelve apostles. He was trying to get the mixture right so that they would bake properly. He had to remove much of what they had been taught before He could put them in the oven to bake. It didn’t work with Judas. He was half-baked. He mingled with folks who corrupted him. The others finally came out of the oven on Pentecost fully baked, and ready to share the gospel with the world. Another insight into this comes in Hebrews 5-6. Please read both chapters. The gist of this is that the Hebrew Christian were allowing other ingredients to be added to the batter. They were also failing to add ingredients prescribed in God’s recipe. This combination of foreign ingredients and ingredients that were left out was producing immature Christians. They should have become fully baked, mature Christians able to teach others, but instead they remained spiritual babies. They can’t tell the difference between right and wrong. They can’t pass on the faith. They are having trouble with repentance and transformation (that is what happens when you bake bread. Batter is transformed into bread.) The Hebrew writer was trying to be optimistic that these Christians would eventually come out of the oven fully baked. They had been further along earlier in their spiritual growth. But they were slipping away.
When we allow the thinking of the world to become embedded in the thinking of the church, we project a mixed message to others. This is done by what we preach and what we don’t preach. It is done by the world not seeing Christians any differently than themselves. Christians have the same divorce rate, the same abortion rate, the same addictions rate, the same porn rate, and on and on. Outsiders conclude that us Christians are merely half-baked and inedible. We are pulling the trigger, but the gun is not firing. Our wood is wet. Our business plan is incomplete. Our building is half-built. We stumbled halfway around the track. We have become lukewarm. The butter knife has batter on it.