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Colin Shek—Sunderland, UK

My recent experience of clay pigeon shooting was a very satisfying one. Take aim, follow the trajectory of the clay, shoot, and—bam!—watch it blow up in mid-air. The key is aiming correctly. If the clay is moving in an upward trajectory and hangs in the air, then you cover it with the tip of the barrel. If it is travelling away from you at speed, then you have to aim ahead of it.

The act of aiming for a goal is something we all do in various facets of life. Busy professionals have sales targets and deadlines to meet. Students have grades to achieve. Entrepreneurs have profit margins to maintain and deals to make. Parents have milestones to monitor their child’s development.

When we think of our faith, how often do we aim for spiritual objectives? How much do we direct our lives towards God? And even when we aim for God, how often does our aim go askew?

Chapter 7 of Hosea contains several messages which illustrate these conundrums, and causes us to reflect on them for ourselves.


They return, but not to the Most High;

They are like a treacherous bow. (Hos 7:16a)

During Hosea’s ministry, the people of God tried to aim for God, but they did not turn fully towards Him. They turned, but not upwards towards God. God likened His people to a treacherous bow. Imagine shooting with a treacherous bow. You take aim at the target and shoot, only to see the arrow fly into the ground. Similarly, the people of God, like a faulty bow, missed the target completely. They exhibited the signs of repentance and yet failed to wholeheartedly redirect their entire lives towards God.

Humans tend to be like this. We aim to turn to God as our Savior and Provider. We start off with much energy and zeal. But over time, we end up veering away from God.

How many of us have made commitments to read the Bible from beginning to end, for instance? How many of us have found the stories of Abraham, Joseph, and Moses extremely exciting, only to see our interest dramatically tail off when we hit Leviticus? (We need only to look at which pages of our Bibles are the most worn to confirm this!)

Think of how many people start and fail various dieting plans. How many people sign up to expensive annual gym memberships, and stop going after two months? Starting is the easy part. Staying on course until the end is much more difficult. This is especially true of our faith.

What God desires is for us to stay on target towards Him. Of course, this is not always easy. When I was shooting clays, for example, I would miss the target whenever I felt tired. You would not think that shooting things could be so tiring, but it is—focus causes mental strain. And yet when I put in the extra effort to concentrate and zone in on my target, I had the great satisfaction of seeing the clays smashed to bits in the sky.

That is why the Bible encourages us to be vigilant at all times, and to take our faith seriously (Mt 26:41; 1 Pet 4:7). This takes effort and stamina (1 Cor 9:24, 2 Tim 4:7). But we can persevere because we have the grace and mercy of God propelling us along. The end result will be worth it: we will have the ultimate satisfaction of being counted worthy to stand before God (Lk 21:36). The end of a thing is always better than the beginning (Eccl 7:8).

We read in the Book of Hosea that there are a few specific ways in which God wants us to be fully directed towards Him. One of them is holiness. Do we aim for complete holiness in our lives? Do we give our whole lives to be cleansed by God? That is one area that the people of Israel struggled with.


Ephraim has mixed himself among the peoples;

Ephraim is a cake unturned. (Hos 7:8)

I do not bake, but from what I understand, a cake unturned will be burned on one side, and doughy and uncooked on the other. No matter how you look at it, it is inedible. Just imagine biting into a cake that is half-burned and half-raw! Israel was just like this cake—neither a fully holy nation nor a fully pagan nation. They were similar to the church in Laodicea in the Book of Revelation—they were neither hot nor cold. In Hosea, it was because the people of God had assimilated themselves into the nations around them (Hos 7:8).

As a result, Israel was unfit for purpose. They were supposed to be set apart for God, and set apart from the nations around them (Num 23:9); they were supposed to be holy, as God is holy (Lev 18); they were supposed to glorify God to the surrounding nations (Isa 49:3). But the more Israel became like those nations, the less they could shine for God.

We see that God does not like half-baked Christians. We are called to be holy through and through. Of course, we are all a “work in progress.” Like a well-baked cake, it takes time and effort to become holy before God, to be set apart from our sinful ways and the godless culture around us, to be dedicated to God and belong to Him.

So do you want to become a fully baked Christian in the eyes of God? To be Christ-like through and through? There are a few basic principles that we can follow to realize this:

Abhor sin (Rom 12:9; Eph 5:3–5; Deut 7:2, 12:2–4, 20:16–18)

God tells us to really hate all uncleanness (the godless television shows that we watch, the godless media that we engage in, the lustful thoughts that we have), and to really hate all covetousness (the desire for more and more, the envy of others). The Bible tells us to put to death, by the Spirit, such sin. In the eyes of God, these acts are an abomination. The key to this is to hate sin itself, and not merely hate the shame that sin brings (see Gen 3:7–8). That is, to hate the gratifying nature of sin, rather than hating the guilt it brings afterwards.

Adore God, and really aspire to be more like Him (Mt 5:48; 1 Pet 1:15–16)

We should appreciate just how amazing our God is. And with this in mind, we should strive for the fullness of Christ (Eph 4:13), and put on the new man created in God's image (Eph 4:23–25). This requires continuous effort to imitate Jesus (Eph 5:1; 1 Cor 11:1). The world constantly pressures us to improve our appearance (to be more beautiful, slimmer), to advance our career (to gain more status, responsibility, pay), and improve our personality (to be more confident, witty, happy). But chasing after these ambitions is like half-baking a cake. God wants us to be even more ambitious—He wants us to be more like Him, because we are created in God’s image (Gen 1:26–27).

Our call to holiness is not a call to a life of boredom and repression, but a call to joy, satisfaction, and fulfillment. Do we have the faith to see this? If not, then the ideals of the world would seem a better option to pursue. Our value, our worth, does not come from what is on our CV, or payslip, or online profile. Our value comes from being cleansed by Christ, by being redeemed by His blood, and being made holy in Christ (1 Cor 6:11; 1 Pet 1:18–19; Ex 39:30).

Once this mindset of complete holiness is embraced, we can have a fully baked attitude like that of Paul:

I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me. (Gal 2:20)

Fully Baked Evangelism

Have you ever been attracted to the smell of freshly baked cakes and freshly ground coffee? Our Christian lives can have a similar effect of attraction on others. If we set our mind on becoming a fully baked Christian, then we allow the aroma of Christ to diffuse through us (2 Cor 2:14–15). But if God's people are mixed with the other nations of the world, then it becomes difficult—the aroma that is diffused is not of God, but of the world. Or worse, the aroma of God becomes mixed and contaminated with worldly ones, which gives those who come in contact with it the wrong impression of God. Therefore, we do not need to be concerned with how to be trendy or how to fit in. Our focus should just be on being a well-baked Christian.

Israel was a half-baked cake. God wants us to be fully baked, fully holy, fully cleansed, and fully His.


Ephraim also is like a silly dove, without sense—

They call to Egypt,

They go to Assyria.

Wherever they go, I will spread My net on them;

I will bring them down like birds of the air. (Hos 7:11–12a)

Israel was like a silly dove: totally flaky, never settling down, never committing. Sometimes Israel went to Egypt to form an alliance, other times they went to Assyria. All the while they ignored God as their true Provider and Protector. Because of Israels adulterous ways, God brought His net of judgment upon them, wherever they decided to go.

We are sometimes just like Israel. We, too, have our idolatrous tendencies. We, too, can be quite flaky before God, never settling our hearts on Him. Instead, we go from one idol to another, never fully putting our trust in our true God. Often we try to find fulfillment and security by worldly methods: pursuing the latest trends, money, career, self-image, fleshly gratification.

As a result, we become like a silly, senseless dove flying from one thing to another. The world tells us that we need more—more money to have a better quality of life, more possessions and entertainment to enjoy life, more status to be respected, more trendiness to fit in. But the Bible tells us that we need less. It tells us that our life is not judged by the possessions we accumulate (Lk 12:15). It tells us to be content (1 Tim 6:6–8). If there is anything we do need more of, however, it is trust in God (1 Tim 6:17).

For some, it is understandably an issue of security, like Israel looking to the other nations for protection. We might think, If I had a bit more income, a smaller mortgage, a better pension, then my future will be secure. And yet, Jesus said that the rich man who stored up his riches was a fool, since that very night his life would be taken from him (Lk 12:20).

As Christians, we can be over busy. We work hard for the treasures in heaven, but we also work hard for the treasures on earth. We want to worship God, but we also want to worship the gods of this world. We end up flapping like a senseless dove. God is waving infinite joy and salvation in front of us, and yet we are more interested in gratifying our lusts and desires in the dirt of life. God is giving us everything, and yet we are constantly distracted by what is on offer from Egypt and Assyria.

And yet, idols are false satisfiers. True satisfaction can only be found through God.

Being a true Christian in a consumerist culture today means having faith, and believing that we will find true fulfillment, joy, and identity in God and nothing else (Phil 3:8–9). God does not want us to be like a senseless bird. Rather, He invites us to settle in His kingdom and find rest, to trust in Him from day to day.


God desires that we strive to direct our lives towards Him. This takes effort and sustained focus. But by the grace of God, He will always guide us. May we redirect our lives towards Him and become fully baked Christians—fully cleansed and holy. May we seek to be fully settled in the arms of Christ, rather than being distracted by the godless culture around us. And let us rejoice that, in Christ, we have infinite joy and salvation.