Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Spiritual Fast-Food

When you go to church, listen to the worship music, the messages, read the bulletins and meet and greet others does any of it really sink in? I know that’s a lot to answer for. But I’m asking to try to get you to think, if only for the moment, about how you would personally answer that. Because I believe part of our culture here in the United States has crept over into our faith. And what I’m talking about here isn’t a good thing. Today, Americans seem to treat their faith like they would order up a meal at a drive through restaurant. It’s just this thing that we do to get it out of the way so we can get to the next thing.

For those who may be wondering where the inspiration for all of this came from…if you guessed from an experience at a fast food restaurant, you’d be correct. Today I went through a drive through at one of America’s better known fast food chains for lunch because I was in a hurry to get back to work. Of course, they got my order wrong. I ordered the larger sized meal and they gave me the small because that is all I paid for. At least they gave me napkins and ketchup without my having to ask. That’s the least they could do for taking down the wrong order and then making me park and wait until they brought it out to me. I was kind of in a hurry.

Besides, I was hungry! But then I got back, ate my meal and realized that what I ordered was more than enough food. I was actually grateful the restaurant made the mistake. I was satisfied, instead of bloated. I paid less money. Besides, it’s not like I need any more calories. I’m already considerably overweight. But the whole thing got me to thinking. Is this how I treat my faith sometimes? Like a fast-food drive through window?

I know this notion might seem silly. But haven’t you every just gone to church one Sunday and that was the first and only spiritual thing you did that week? Or let’s say you did many spiritual things that week, but do you remember what songs were sung or what they were about? What about the message from the pulpit? Did you remember it? What were the key points? Did you take notes? If so, did you re-read through those notes a few times during the week? If the sermons at your church are published online or handed out on CD, do you listen to them again? Or maybe you’re like many of us and just push on till the next Sunday.

I can say that I personally don’t do a lot of the things I’m asking about 100% of the time. Sometimes I do. Sometimes, I even do well with a few of those things over an extended period of time. But I’m certainly not perfect. I let these kinds of things slide from time-to-time. And it isn’t the devil making me forget or anything like that. I’m just human. But I’m human living in a culture where a lot of what we do is spend as little time as necessary to move one, but never going deeper. I wonder what I’m missing.

Think of it this way: You go through the drive-through for a burger, fries and a shake. How much of that meal will you remember a day from now? You probably choked it down while driving in your car (maybe on your way to a Wednesday night Bible study, hopefully). It may sustain you for a bit. But is it really good for you? No. Was it good to you, compared to that really nice home-cooked meal with the family where all the food groups were proportionally represented? Which kind of meal do you think you’re more inclined to remember the next day, or even the following week?

I think we can very easily slip into the habit of just going to church and then forgetting everything we experienced during the service. It’s just how we do things today. And it’s a shame too, isn’t it? Think about how much more enriched our lives would be if we made a little more time for what God is trying to do in our lives and in the lives around us. Better yet, think about this. Doesn’t God deserve our best? He gives us His. He sent his one and only Son to die on a cross for all of our sins so that whoever would believe in Him would have everlasting life. But while we’re here on this earth, we’re also promised we’d have life more abundantly. Don’t we all want more out of life?

I challenge everyone who reads this to really soak it all in this coming Sunday. But take it the next steps. Take notes about the message, take notes about the songs. Look up the songs on the internet and listen to them again. Find the words to those songs and read them several times. If your church makes CDs of their services and/or puts the sermons online, listen to the messages a few times during the week. Make sure to jot down some notes about others in your congregation. Pray for them throughout the week. Read the Bible every single day, even if it’s for just 15 minutes.

I promise you that God will move in your life in a powerful way. Whenever we move towards God, he moves towards us. Besides, isn’t time we all kicked the spiritual fast-food habit? Don’t we, as believers, want to have a spiritual feast? I know I do. So, I think I’ll quit typing now so I can go read the Word. I need it after that burger and fries anyway. :)