The other day I was hungry, but in a hurry. I grabbed a microwable meal and was aggravated that it would take 5 minutes to cook. Impatience permeates our hurried culture. We want:
- fast-speed internet
- instant mashed potatoes
- blogs with bullet points
- short sermons with only application (after all interpretation is over-rated isn’t it)
- “slow down” signs, not stop signs
- “slim fast” where weight falls off immediately.
We want it quick and now, but spiritual growth doesn’t work that way.
Paul in writing to Timothy contrasts the spiritual life with the physical life saying, “for while bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way” (1 Tim 4:8a). Just as it takes time to train and build our bodies, it takes time to train and build our spiritual lives.
The disciplines of the Christian life are to be practiced over a lifetime(See Whitney’s Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life). We don’t read our Bibles through once. We don’t wake up one day and experience instant maturity in this world.
Now many in church know these things, and yet we are regularly rebuked by our practice.
- We provide a 3-week series on being the best dad and forget to do the hard work of often walking people through the process of biblical fatherhood.
- We tell people to study their Bibles, but don’t spend time with them showing them how (this reality is made worst when our sermons focus on application to the exclusion of showing people how to interpret the text. When pastors only present conclusions, it robs the people of learning how to walk through the text for themselves.)
- We think a 25-minute sermon or Bible study is sufficient and forget to spend time with people, investing our lives in them.
- We send too many emails and make too few phone calls or visits.
Just as our spiritual development took time, we need to walk with people through life with more than text message sound bites.
Unintentionally, all too often, mature believers are promoting a faulty microwavable spirituality to those they are called to invest in and bring to maturity. We need to slow down and show others they matter, and take time to develop others meaningfully in their Christian walk.