Fast Food and Instant Coffee

Some things in life are better when they’re faster, like internet connections, horses and cars (okay, those last two depend on the person). For other things, though, there’s just no substitute for waiting for the real thing. For instance: fast food and instant coffee. Both will do in a pinch when you need a quick lunch or caffeine kick, but the quality just isn’t there.

In a culture that’s all about quick fixes and immediate gratification, it suddenly struck me that our Christianity sometimes reflects that. The results sometimes aren’t all that great when you take the easy route. There’s just no substitute for a home cooked meal or a freshly brewed cup of joe.  Here’s a couple ways we sometimes treat our spiritual lives like fast food and instant coffee.

It seems like a good idea at the time. When all we really want is to feel better, to be in a relationship, or have kids, it seems like the sooner, the better. What could possibly be wrong with NOW? It’s funny how we think that solving one little problem in our life will create total happiness and utter contentment for the rest of our lives. We don’t realize that the easy way out isn’t usually as satisfying as it looked beforehand.

It doesn’t last. The crazy spiritual highs we feel at certain times in life are amazing things. Singing with raised hands and crying out “Amen!” with a group of believers isn’t a bad thing, but it will leave you hungry again soon, just like a trip to a drive-through burger joint. A home cooked meal of doctrine and gospel, however, will fill you up and keep you going until the next meal. There’s no substitute for that. In relationships, churches and most of life, it often pays off in the long run to take the time and put in the effort for higher quality friendships or deepened doctrinal understanding.

We just don’t have the time. It takes ten minutes or so to brew a full pot of coffee. It takes several hours or more to fix a full Sunday dinner. It also takes time to cultivate a real relationship with God. Still, running through the drive through every once in a while won’t hurt you, and having instant coffee isn’t the end of the world. It’s so easy to listen to contemporary Christian music radio (NOT a bad thing in itself!!), but we can’t live solely off that. It won’t have the same effect on us that sitting under the preaching does. We need to be willing to put in the time every day to work for lasting, fulfilling results, not instant gratification Christianity.

Simply praying to God for the things we want doesn’t guarantee that we will receive them, and even if we do, it doesn’t guarantee that we will have lasting contentment from them. That job we’ve wanted for so long won’t necessarily solve our money problems. That relationship we’ve longed for might not fill the loneliness we feel. When I think about the things I want, I want them right now! I often find myself thinking “Lord I need this, and I need it yesterday!” I often need to realize that the best thing for me right now is to sit back and let God prepare a fuller meal. Wait a little longer for something so much better. Trust that if God hasn’t given you instant coffee this morning, He’s brewing up something so much better.

Suzie Kuiper

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