Fast food Christianity.
– The sugar rush –
My life has gone through some serious changes in the last two years. One of these changes, was that I started exercising again after about five years of doing nothing. I started running in Sept 2013, and am busy training for my first marathon in May this year.
With this, my attention fell on the way I was eating, as it greatly influenced my performance, recovery and overall running. One thing I realized very quickly: I eat the things I like and not the things I need. I drink the things I like and not the things I need. With an adjustment to my diet, came an increased ability to perform better in my running.
There is a striking parallel between proper nutrition and the current trend of modern, commercial Christianity. We are starting to condition ourselves spiritually on messages and Church environments, that we like and that give us the ‘feel good’ factor, the type that makes us comfortable and full, but lack in nutritional density and real substance.
As leaders, we sometimes add more sugar and more carbohydrates, to ensure people come back. We give them a high, a ‘sugar spike’ that they get addicted to, but that is not beneficial for them in the long run. Once they leave, the effect of the sugar rush quickly subsides, leaving them on a low, which requires them to come back for some more candy. The irony of it all is that it works. People come back for more and so we consider ourselves successful and we perpetuate the cycle.
We can even perfect this type of diet by creating a virtual fast-food Church in which everything is streamlined, organized, perfectly timed and professional. But if this type of ‘drive through’ activity is not supplying good nutrition, the Church will grow bigger and bigger and weaker and weaker, until finally unable to complete the race that has been set before it. We will become obese. Bigger but weaker than ever before. We will find ourselves with a lot of customers, abundance of finances, but failing to mature anyone in to the image of Christ.
Being ‘relevant’ at the cost of being accurate will eventually suffocate us. It takes time for the abuse of sugar to eventually manifest in the body as forms of diabetes. We do not become obese overnight. So also the Body of Christ, when malnutritioned, will eventually find itself ill and incapable of the basics. While we are eating the incorrect diet, there seems to be no immediate negative effect, in fact we feel great while getting the sugar rush, and we come back for more.
Possibly the worst effect that this incorrect diet can have on us, is that we start to dislike the ‘broccoli’ and ‘green beans’ of the Gospel. That which really feeds us, deliver us, protects us and heals us, start to offend us.
What does your spiritual diet look like? Are you offended by sacrifice, discipline and faithfulness? Do you crave that which provides immediate personal satisfaction?
As leaders, what are we feeding people? If we only feed people that which makes them come back, and never get to that which they need, we are failing both God and them.
“…Simon, do you love me? …Feed my sheep.” – Jesus Christ
Grace and Peace