Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Real Isn't Instant

I remember the song "Instant Breakfast" from the 1970s or 80s. Pastor Bryan Lowe refers to it in his blogpost from earlier today (Alaska time).  As I read or hear the words (see link to song from the group "Wendy and Mary" above) I think of how many things have changed since then--Polaroid cameras and Avon ladies are are gone--but we still like things quick and easy, including our relationship with God. 

Here are the lyrics:
“Instant breakfast, instant life,
Anything easy ‘cuz that’s what we like –
Fast food places and banks with no lines,
Anything easy, that will do fine.

Microwave ovens, mom's dream come true -
Put it on credit, take it with you.
Drive through car wash only 2.98 -
Very convenient the American Way.

Polaroid cameras, remote garage doors,
Instant coffee, K-Mart stores,
Avon ladies right at your door,
Home computers, who could want more?

Instant Christian, changed overnight,
Anything easy ‘cuz that’s what we like.
Help me grow, Lord.  Show me how.
Give me the patience!  I want it now!”
Real Christianity, however, is anything but easy!  Here's a reflection on this truth from Pastor Bryan Lowe at
“Always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies.” 2 Cor. 4:10, ESV

Somebody has been pulling your leg! There isn’t any provision added to your contract with the Father that releases you from “any pain or duress while acting as a disciple while in this dark world.” This “rider clause” doesn’t work, it has no validity or legal precedent–it simply is not true.

Not everyone agrees with me on this point. But becoming a saint is not an automatic or a painless process. Discipleship is like being mashed until you are soft and gracious inside, and that my friend, takes a lot of time and tears, in equal proportions. Painless Christianity and spontaneous sainthood is definitely fiction. It is a lie, and a crooked one at that.

Just pour a little water on it, and presto-chango! And stand back and watch it grow.

Perhaps our “hi-tech” culture gives us false expectations. We have the microwave, high-def TV, fast food places and the computer/internet (my fave.) I guess that I’m trying to say is that we think that there is a corresponding effect into spiritual things. But there isn’t.

Spiritual growth or discipleship is a definite growth process. The incredible redwood forests of Northern California where all once tiny, vulnerable seeds. But something happened! They grew and grew. It took centuries to attain their amazing heights. We see them in the present, the “now” –and never what they used to be.

Unquestionably, the life-giving, Holy Spirit can accelerate growth. But the standard set in the Word is more like “slow and steady.” Even God’s favorites in scripture had periods of waiting and testing. I suppose that’s where faith comes in to play. All too often we look for a formula when we should be seeking an obedience. (But honestly, formulas are fun– and nice, and clean and quick.)

Formula-istic faith isn’t really real, we just insist that it has to be. But the Father has different plans for raising his children. No shortcuts or detours, we walk through the floods and then we take a lap (or two) through the fire (my theory, this is to dry us off after the floods, lol.) Otherwise, he would have to write an apology to the martyrs that came before us.

But I beg, and plead for you, to accept the real terms of your discipleship. You will only fool yourself if you think instant is better then real. But to accept the foolish may seem to be faith to some; but to walk through the darkness with just a candle takes real faith. I’m not a “palm reader,” but I predict you are going to face hard times and challenges that will “rock your world.”

“Paul and Barnabas preached the good news in Derbe and won some people to the Lord. Then they went back to Lystra, Iconium, and Antioch in Pisidia. They encouraged the followers and begged them to remain faithful. They told them, “We have to suffer a lot before we can get into God’s kingdom.” Acts 14:21-22, CEV

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