I’ve been reading, this week, looking ahead to 2018 and contemplating where I believe God is leading us at Ogden Memorial. One of the books I am reading is Richard Foster’s classic Celebration of Discipline.
This was a book I had to read in seminary, which meant it was one of those you rushed to finish in order to move to the next assignment. I’ve always appreciated what I read from the book, but nothing really struck me as deeply profound because I was reading it with a different purpose of simply completing an assignment.
That is until I read the book’s first paragraph this week. It says:
Superficiality is the cure of our age. The doctrine of instant satisfaction is a primary spiritual problem. The desperate need today is not for a greater number of intelligent people, or gifted people, but for deep people.
Foster wrote those words in the 1970s. They are still appropriate for us today. We are in hurry in a life and, as a result, we never experience the fullness of God’s desires for us.
Think of what happens when you eat a fast food meal. I enjoy a good fast food meal. Give me a chicken sandwich and waffle fries from Chick-Fil-A and I’m in preacher heaven.
The meals from a fast food restaurant are intended as a quick meal when you are in a hurry. They are typically high in calories and low on nutrition, which means they will fill you up but will not give you anything that will sustain your life. There is nothing wrong with eating them every once in awhile, but you cannot live off them or else your health will suffer.
Statistics tell us that the average family will spend $1,200 annual on fast food meal. We’re attempting to live on something that is not necessarily good for us. Why? Because we’re in a rush. We’re running from one event after another and we do not carve out time for a deeper meal with the family around the table and settle for a bagged meal from the local fast food place.
The same is true for our relationship with Christ. We allow ourselves to be so busy that we do not carve out the time needed for a deeper relationship with the Lord. We believe we are “wasting time” engaging the practices of faith, because we do not see the results right away. We want results now, and if it doesn’t happen immediately we’ll turn away and do something else with our time.
Faith and life in relationship with the Lord is like any other relationship in that it takes time to develop. It is a slow growth and process of doing the things necessary to keep the relationship going. We have to be intentional about not desiring a quick moment with our Lord, but to yearn for something deeper that engages us completely and challenges us fully.
Our relationship with the Lord needs our time in prayer, Scripture reading, in worship with other believers, and acts of mercy in our community that live out faith. These are not things that we do to “earn” faith or points with God. They are the things we do to grow in faith and experience more of our relationship with the Lord.
Faith is at its strongest when we are spending time doing the things necessary that lead to a fuller life in Christ. That doesn’t happen if all we yearn for our quick moments of faith that feel us up like a Happy Meal from McDonald’s, but often lead us hungering for something much deeper and life giving.