With the simple tap of a finger, we have immediate access to a endless stream of information. One of the benefits of accessibility is that it reduces time. Visiting family across the country used to mean a lengthy road trip. With air travel, that was reduced to hours. Now, with the onset of digital technology, we can talk face-to-face in an instant.
The progress of consumer-driven culture has countless benefits as it relates to business and communication, but I’m afraid that it has ravaged our spiritual life. In a culture that demands well-produced, instant access to all things, we have bee fooled into believing that we can attain instant discipleship—as if we could insert Jesus into our life, press the timer, and experience spiritual transformation.
As I prayed about this challenge in my own life, I felt like I was given the phrase, Microwavable Christianity. It was a reminder that despite the cultural temptation, the process of becoming who God has created me to be cannot be completed in my timing.
The truth of this phrase pierced the heart of my anxiety and impatience, but it’s absolutely true.
Jesus called us to bear fruit and fruit doesn’t grow in the microwave.
Building Our Kingdom
I don’t intend to criticize the work of God in anyone’s life and I can’t, for a second, pass judgement, but the glaring problem that I face within my own carnal self is this: There is a real temptation to become more concerned with building my own kingdom than building God’s.
And for some reason, I don’t think I’m alone.
For many years, I was a good Christian. I attended church regularly, read my Bible, and tried to live a good life. But deep down, in the subtle places that get drowned out by all of the noise—the places that are easy to ignore—I was more concerned with my own well-being than God’s purposes.
As long as my bills were paid, my kids were healthy, and my business was growing, I didn’t really need God. And for me, He stayed in the microwave. In just two minutes, I could get exactly what I needed. God was here for me, I wasn’t here for God.
But that’s not the gospel. The gospel teaches us that we are to be transformed, living sacrifices for His purposes. Otherwise, we a slave to our own will, captive and chained by ourselves.
Whose House Are You Building?
The small book of Haggai was a wake up call for me.
“You eat, but never have enough. You drink, but never have your fill. You earn wages, only to put them in a purse with holes in it. My house remains a ruin, while each of you is busy with his own house.” —Haggai 1:6,9
God’s people had become consumed with building for themselves, yet their pursuits left them empty, grasping for everything, hoping that it would provide them the life that they longed for.
That feels awfully familiar.
But in the midst of their disobedience, God calls to them:
“Build the house, so that I may take pleasure in it and be honored.” —Haggai 1:8
The question asked of God’s people is the same question you and I must wrestle with today:
Whose house are we building?
In August of 2013, I asked God the same question I posed above: “What do you want from me?”
It was then that I felt a distinct and unshakable calling to begin writing. That idea was ludicrous. I had never written before. I had three small kids. I was an insurance agent.
More than two years later, as I write these words, I have had the opportunity to connect with more than 250,000 people through this blog. And in 2015, I spoke to more than 20 audiences and thousands of people about redefining their pursuits in life as a way to live more fully.
My fear is that this all sounds very self-serving, but I share this for the specific purpose to point to God. And, I share it to bring about a paradox. As it turns out, I feel like I know less about God now than I did back then. Back then, God was a puddle I could playfully splash in. Now, He feels like an ocean that consumes me. That is the mystery of God. The more we seek, the more we find. When you return to Him, He will return to you.
If I’ve learned anything over the past couple of years, it’s that you can’t microwave God. Spiritual transformation is a process that cannot be rushed. It’s curious that Paul spent three years in Asia after his conversion to Christianity, Jesus walked with his disciples for three years, and it took Moses forty years in Midian to understand his calling.
These stories are the reminder that God’s purposes in our life are slow-cooked in a crockpot of His grace. Our only option for true transformation is falling on our knees in humility before Him, like a child resting in the provision of their father. In that process, fruit will begin to grow.
There’s a complex simplicity in following Jesus that sounds foolish, but that’s the beauty of faith.
“Seek first the kingdom of God.” —Matthew 6:33
For years I could quote that verse on a sunset picture on Instagram, but when my feet hit the floor on Monday morning, I was really seeking something else.
Today, I’m reminded that our God is a God of process—He operates in eternity. The redemption of the cross came thousands of years after the fall in the Garden of Eden. Take hope in that. If you’re feeling like the fruit isn’t ripening as fast as you would like for it to, keep going back to Him and ask Him to reveal it to you. He will.
While we’re staring at the microwave, waiting on the buzzer for our two minutes to be up, He’s inviting us to rest in His presence. That challenges everything that culture teaches, but I’m finding that is the only way to experience His peace.