Thursday, January 13, 2011

Burger King, McDonalds, and Jesus

Today I want to play on a cliche.  I generally do not like cliches, but it is a message worth hearing, reading, and typing and something I think the majority of the church falls into.  The cliche I want to speak on today is the premise of "Fast Food Christianity."  That is the premise that we want things fast, we want them our way, we want the right to choose what we want and do not want, and we want it all to be cheap.  Just like with our bodies, gluttoning ourselves on fast food faith leads to lazy and unhealthy Christians.  Considering that so many in the church have this attitude, I feel it must be addressed and exposed for the heresy that it is.  It should be no surprise.  God warned us that this very thing would happen.
Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables.  2 Timothy 4:2-4 NKJV
This passage not only prophesies the problem of fast food faith, but it identifies its remedy and exposes our failure.  The problem is people desiring a doctrine that suits their own desires.  They want a custom faith that allows them to exist in their pre-Christ state while still enjoying the blessings and salvation provided through Jesus.  The vaccine for this error is sound teaching and solid doctrine.  Our failure was our concern for itching ears and not for convicting hearts.  Despite God's warning, we created this monster through fast food doctrine that only serves the satisfy the flesh and ignores the real needs of the heart.  Our churches served junk food and the people ate it up.  Let us take a look at what we have become.

First of all, we want things fast.  We love instant gratification.  We hear teachings of health and wealth and we want ours and now.  We send our money to false teachers.  We rely on Christianized superstition to attain healing or prosperity.  We come to God in prayer and expect His answer to be yes and to be instant.  We get discouraged and frustrated as we wait on God, expecting that He owes us an answer and soon.  We do want to worry about such inconvenient things as cultivating our faith or growing in the Lord.  For the fast food Christian, there is no such thing as growing in the Lord.  He is either in the Lord or He is not, maturity and growth have no meaning in a faith such as this.  We become like a spoiled child pleading for a toy he or she is not old enough for.  We whine and whine when we do not get our way and the only reason we can come up with is that we are not whining enough.  We say, we have not because we did not ask hard enough or have faith enough.  Here is what God says:
You ask and do not receive, because you ask amiss, that you may spend it on your pleasures.  James 4:3 NKJV
We expect God to say "yes" and say it now.  We ignore that God can say "no" or "wait."  Waiting on the Lord and learning patience is part of our growth in the Lord.  We are not mass-produced Christians like some fast food hamburger but an individual creation being carefully prepared and trimmed by our Lord.  Do not neglect the greater lesson of patience for the immediate satisfaction of our selfish desires.  We must be patient as God grows and prepares us for the wonderful things He has for us.  Growth in the Lord is a long but necessary process, ending in our final sanctification as we stand before our Lord.
But also for this very reason, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue, to virtue knowledge, to knowledge self-control, to self-control perseverance, to perseverance godliness, to godliness brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness love. For if these things are yours and abound, you will be neither barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. For he who lacks these things is shortsighted, even to blindness, and has forgotten that he was cleansed from his old sins.  2 Peter 1:5-9 NKJV
Not only do we want things now, but we want them our way.  We want a faith customized to our own desires.  We order our Jesus the same way we order a hamburger.  We want a Jesus with extra grace and hold the persecution and obedience while asking for a side of health and prosperity. 

We want the extra grace and to hold the obedience because we want to sin.  Why be obedient when Jesus forgives you anyway?  Why should we change our lives when we are under grace and not under the law?   Paul address this question.
What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound? Certainly not! How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it? Romans 6:1-2 NKJV
We want to hold the persecution and have our side of health and prosperity because we want the "good life."  Even after we come to Jesus, we want the good life.  We want health and prosperity and blessings and we do not want any of that bad stuff that the Bible mentions.  We think we get to pick and choose one without the other.  We add promises never made and take away promises or commands we do not like.  We think God will make us all rich and healthy and renounce any kind of suffering or persecution.  The Bible, however, says differently.
So Jesus answered and said, "Assuredly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife or children or lands, for My sake and the gospel's, who shall not receive a hundredfold now in this time—houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecutions—and in the age to come, eternal life. " Mark 10:29-30 NKJV
This verse illustrates the last point that persecution is part of our reality as Christians and leads us into my next point that we like to pick and choose aspects of our faith like items off of a menu.  We see a passage like we see above and select the hundredfold increase, but we neglect the fact that it comes with persecution and it costs us all that we have.  We would rather just hold onto our old stuff and get even more good stuff and not deal with the pain of persecution (even though we ultimately find blessings in our persecution).  We like to talk about health but neglect those passage where God sends disease to chastise disobedience.  We like to talk about prosperity but ignore the passages that tell us that any prosperity we get is for the purpose and sharing and equality and if not so prospered to be content in our poverty.  We talk about getting the desires of our heart, but we neglect the passages about surrendering our hearts to God's will.  We talk about salvation by grace but neglect the work of repentance achieved through that grace.  We talk about being saved by faith, but we neglect that real faith produces works.  We talk about the love of Jesus poured out for us, but we neglect His own words that tell us if we love Him we will obey Him.  All in all, we want all of the blessings of God, but none of the responsibility that comes with that blessing.  We want Jesus to change our lives, but to leave our hearts just the way we are.  We can not select what parts of the Word and neglect the ones we do not.  If we accept the Bible as God's Word, then it all must be God's Word.
All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.  2 Timothy 3:16-17 NKJV
We can not pick which parts of Scripture we like, while ignoring the rest.  All Scripture is given by God, all is profitable for doctrine, reproof, correction, and instruction. 

And finally, there is the question of cost.  We want our faith to be cheap.  We talk about God's free gift of grace.  We talk about salvation by works and not by faith.  Just like the value menus at a fast food restaurant, we want our salvation to be cheap.  We must never think our salvation to be cheap.  The price of our "free" gift was the blood of the only begotten Son of God.  Our salvation cost more than we can ever provide and so we need to truly appreciate the value of our salvation in terms of its cost to God, not in terms what it costs to us.  Our salvation was by no means "cheap" and we must not treat it so.  Furthermore, salvation is not exactly a free gift.  Yes, it is free and yes it is a gift, but it is one only available to those who call upon the name of the Lord.  Calling on the Lord is not some magical spell we say that leads to our salvation but an expression of desire deep down in our hearts to surrender our own will, our very own self, to Jesus Christ.  Salvation without obedience is impossible because salvation requires the expressed desire to be obedient to the One we now call Lord.  Salvation without obedience is impossible because the very act of calling upon the name of the Lord is an acquiescence of our own desires to live how we want. It is not the mere act of calling him Lord, but the heartfelt belief that He is Lord.  The cost to us for salvation is our very selves and all that we have.  If Jesus is Lord of us, He is Lord of all we have.  That is the cost of salvation.  Am I preaching a gospel of works?  Absolutely not.  Our obedience is a result of our salvation, not the cause of it.  We come to Jesus admitting we can not do it on our own, that we need his Lordship over our lives, that we need the washing of His blood.  He takes us, He washes us, He places inside us the indwelling Holy Spirit, and now that desire of obedience we come to Christ with is realized in the fruit we produce with our lives.  Obedience does not result in our salvation, but our salvation always results in progressive obedience as the Lord works in our lives.  Salvation can never be seen as "cheap." 
Again, the kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and hid; and for joy over it he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field. Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant seeking beautiful pearls, who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had and bought it.  Matthew 13:44-46 NKJV
There is nothing more valuable than the grace of God. 

Please give up any part of the fast food faith.  It has no nutritional value to our spirit and only hurts the body of Christ.  Our faith is the pearl of greatest prize worth giving up all that we have for and costing the blood of the only begotten Son of God.  Our faith is comprised of the whole counsel of God and not some menu on a wall where we pick and choose the items we like.  We need to get a well-balanced meal of the whole counsel of God or we will never grow properly as Christians.  Our faith is one where we abdicate the throne of our hearts to our Lord and submit to His will and to not treat God as a fast-food order taker expecting to get what we want, how we want it.  Finally, our faith is one that develops over the entirety of our lives.   We are not mass produced cheeseburgers but individuals who are carefully cultivated from babes in Christ to men of God.   If we continue to allow this unhealthy fast food to enter the Body of Christ, we are creating a fat, lazy, and selfish wife for our Lord to come claim.  We must be ready for His return, anxiously awaiting our Lord to come claim his beautiful bride.  The Lord is looking for a bride anxious and ready, not lazy and complacent.
Then the kingdom of heaven shall be likened to ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. Now five of them were wise, and five were foolish. Those who were foolish took their lamps and took no oil with them, but the wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps. But while the bridegroom was delayed, they all slumbered and slept. And at midnight a cry was heard: 'Behold, the bridegroom is coming; go out to meet him!' Then all those virgins arose and trimmed their lamps. And the foolish said to the wise, 'Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.' But the wise answered, saying, 'No, lest there should not be enough for us and you; but go rather to those who sell, and buy for yourselves.' And while they went to buy, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went in with him to the wedding; and the door was shut. Afterward the other virgins came also, saying, 'Lord, Lord, open to us!' But he answered and said, 'Assuredly, I say to you, I do not know you.' Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour in which the Son of Man is coming.  Matthew 25:1-13 NKJV

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