We started a new series in The Underground this week called “Diner-Christianity.” It’s a creative, conversational, out of the box, attempt for us to relate the characteristics of our faith journey back to different types of eating environments or establishments.
Another way to say it is, “If my faith journey is an eating establishment what kind of eating establishment would it be?” (I know, only in America, right?)
We launched the series on Sunday with the topic of “fast-food Christianity.” The conversation and teaching focused on areas of our faith journey that look more like a trip to Taco Bell than the journey toward discipleship. (However, I will quickly mention that I do hear angels singing the Hallelujah chorus every-time I order a Double-Double from In & Out Burger.) I know, at times, I am guilty of fast food (drive-thru) Christianity, and here is one simple example of some of the things we talked about on Sunday.
Take a minute to think about two of the main reasons that we go to fast food “restaurants.” We frequent places like McDonald’s because they are fast and cheap. It doesn’t cost a lot of time or money to go through a Taco Bell drive thru, although there might be some weight and health issues at some other time.
Fast-Food Christianity is just that—fast and cheap, but with the potential for long term challenges. With fast food faith you are “done” in an hour a week (church service) and your faith has little, if any, implication (cost) on the rest of your life, actions, dreams, finances, future or character. Simply stated, there are times in my life where I want a faith that is quick, easy, and that doesn’t cost a lot.
Of course the challenge with fast food faith is that the Bible says, in several passages, that following Jesus has a very real cost. Jesus himself talks about the cost at the end of the Sermon on the Mount where he tells his followers that people are going to persecute you “because of me.”
10 Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
11 “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. 12 Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
In Luke 14, Jesus implores the large crowds to consider the cost of following him in the same way a builder understands the implications of constructing a new building, or a king considering the cost of going to war. And, at the end of his recruitment pitch, (sarcasm) Jesus makes it clear exactly what the cost to follow him is—everything!
The Cost of Being a Disciple
25 Large crowds were traveling with Jesus, and turning to them he said: 26 “If anyone comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters—yes, even their own life—such a person cannot be my disciple.27 And whoever does not carry their cross and follow me cannot be my disciple.
28 “Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Won’t you first sit down and estimate the cost to see if you have enough money to complete it?29 For if you lay the foundation and are not able to finish it, everyone who sees it will ridicule you,30 saying, ‘This person began to build and wasn’t able to finish.’
31 “Or suppose a king is about to go to war against another king. Won’t he first sit down and consider whether he is able with ten thousand men to oppose the one coming against him with twenty thousand?32 If he is not able, he will send a delegation while the other is still a long way off and will ask for terms of peace.33 In the same way, those of you who do not give up everything you have cannot be my disciples.
Many times I want my “faith order” to look more like a “happy meal” than the mysterious, dangerous and scandalous meal that we see at the last supper. One of the real byproducts of fast food faith is that it reduces Jesus down to the part of a loveable fast food corporate mascot (be it clown or king) and turns heaven into nothing more than the chintzy prize that comes with the meal.