Fast Food Grace

American’s consume a lot of fast food. In fact, 20% of all American meals are eaten in the car. Why? Because we are busy! Recently, my pastor told us: “culturally if we don’t have somewhere to be, we don’t know how to function. The reality is that we cannot function without the chaos in our lives”. How does this impact our relationship with Jesus? Personally, I find myself giving myself “fast food grace”: it’s the little moments here and there where I seek Christ. While God loves all these little moments, it’s not as spiritually nourishing to our bodies, much like fast food is considerably less nourishing to our physical ones.

Now, I’m not trying to say that spending those little moments with God is bad, because they aren’t. What I’m saying is that they aren’t enough. We cannot depend on fast food grace. Of course, I want to always think that squeezing in time with God is fulfilling me and it is, but the question remains: how spiritually nourishing and satisfying is it to me? Am I allowing the Word to change my heart and grow my spirit or am I just going through the motions? I think Jesus wanted us to the learn this when he taught the parable of the four soils:

“This is the meaning of the parable: The seed is the word of God. Those along the path are the ones who hear, and then the devil comes and takes away the word from their hearts, so that they may not believe and be saved. Those on the rocky ground are the ones who  receive the word with joy when they hear it, but they have no root. They believe for a while, but in time of testing they fall away. The seed that fell among thorns stands for those who hear, but as they go on their way they are choked by life’s worries, riches and pleasures, and they do not mature. But the seed on good soil stands for those with a noble and good heart, who hear the word, retain it, and by preserving produce a crop.” (Luke 8:11-15)

Jesus gives four examples of where a plant is rooted and how the type of soil it’s rooted in cause different outcomes. In fact, only one of them ends up being fruitful.  “Path” people refuse to believe God’s message. “Rock” people believe his message but never get around to doing anything about it. “Thorn patch” people who are overcome by worries and the lure of materialism, leaving no room in their lives for God. “Good soil” people follow Jesus no matter what the cost.

What type of soil are you?

When I read the parable, I can think of times when I have been each plant during my walk with God. When I reflect over the fruitful and fulfilling parts of my life, it’s always the times when I was rooted in God, in the good soil. Jesus sums it all up in one sentence:

“Therefore, consider carefully how you listen. Whoever has will be given more; whoever does not have, even what they think they have will be taken from them.” (Luke 8:18)

Jesus clearly defines that those who are rooted in Him will be given more. But Jesus wasn’t done with teaching my heart there. The spirit left me questioning what the blessing of the “more” Jesus offered me was? I always want to know the “why”. For that answer I turned to Ephesians, to one of the most beautiful prayers in the Bible.

“For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name. I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge — that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.” (Ephesians 3:14-19, emphasis added)

You see, the reward for following Jesus is JESUS. We are promised love that is wide and long and high and deep! It covers the breadth of our own experiences and it reaches out into the world. It rises to the heights of our elation and celebration. It reaches to the depths of our discouragement, sorrow, and despair. It continues the whole length of our lives. But, we need to be in union with Christ to experience the fullness God has available to us. Like Paul prays, we need to be rooted and established in love so that we can even begin to grasp who Jesus is.

In other words, we need to move away from the fast food grace and return to the grandiose, fulfilling, extravagant meal our souls truly long for and allow more time for one on one time with Jesus.

Being rooted takes time. It isn’t something that can happen overnight, or in one of those 5 minute sessions you or I count as spiritually enough to fully feed our souls. Eventually we, like the plants who aren’t rooted in the “good soil”, will wither and die. It’s a deep and hard thing to really consider, but Christ wants us all, he doesn’t want just the five minutes we squeeze Him in. We all need to stop treating Jesus’ grace like fast food. His grace was made to sustain us spiritually, so dig deep, and root yourself into His word. Plan out some quality time to spend with God this weekend and give your spirit thanksgiving instead of fast food grace.

Lord, make us people who would slow down and listen to you. I pray that as we plan out our weeks we would plan out time for you. Please help us to stop, give up some time and dive deeply into your word so that way our hearts may be renewed and our spirit grown. Please help us to root down into your good soil instead of planting ourselves in the rocks or thorn patch. Thank you that you are a God who is always available to us and that even when we are in a hurry while spending time with us, you still provide for us. Thank you for the grace you give, help us not to depend on the fast food grace and want the turkey dinner grace. We love you Lord.

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