When I was a little girl, one of my adolescent aspirations was to work for, you guessed it, McDonald’s! Go ahead and laugh. Looking back, it is quite hilarious and yet, through the eyes of this child, there was something captivating about the fast food powerhouse.
Maybe it was the free Smurf glasses (who else had the whole collection?) turned happy meal toys that kept me coming back for more. Everyone knows happy meal = happy child, for at least ten minutes. Or perhaps it was my toy McDonald’s play set with a drive through and the roof cut out, where I created a virtual reality of service and order and happy customers.
Nevertheless, I wanted to work at a McDonald’s. I wanted to serve people. I wanted to tell everyone how good the fries are dipped in a milkshake, a revelation shared with me by my cousin, Dustin. I liked the idea of making hungry people smile.
Yet while fast food chains like McDonald’s have helped shape a culture of hurry up, demand, convenience, and high cholesterol, perhaps the church is now suffering from a “fast food” mindset as well.
Allow me to expound:
1. There is nothing about being a follower of Christ that is fast, convenient, or responsive to our demanding spirits. Nothing.
While salvation is a moment of confession and belief (Romans 10:9), sanctification is a long and often lonely walk home toward heaven. Being a Christian isn’t always convenient. It requires tough choices born from absolute truth, firm boundaries, upside-down thinking, and enough grace and forgiveness to fill an ocean.
And don’t get me started on our demanding spirits. I have three children. We can’t even agree on where to eat dinner. Enough said.
2. Furthermore, we can’t order up a “McJesus” to our liking or immediate need. Jesus is who He says He is, nothing more, nothing less. He only comes one way. No condiments or add-ons necessary. We can’t pick and choose the Jesus ingredients we want or need at the moment. For in Him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell (Colossians 1:19). And the very best way to get to know the real, just plain Jesus is to read the Bible. He’s there in the beginning, from Genesis to Revelation.
One of the trickiest things about being a Christian is not allowing our personal theology, with all its erroneous thoughts and flawed perceptions, get in the way of God’s personal transformation of us and our minds. As my pastor reminds his sheep, we have to learn to accept our acceptance, and allow the Trinity to teach us about the Trinity.
Order up. . . one Holy Bible to go! Let’s start feasting on the Bread of Life. Just plain Jesus, no condiments necessary.
3. While there were approximately 14,146 McDonald’s restaurants in the United States in 2016, there were approximately 384,000 churches across America in 2012 (Christianity Today). That’s 27 times more churches than McDonald’s!
Yet, what entities seem to have shaped our culture more over the last 50+ years? The ones established for convenience and excessive calories (a literal shaping), or the ones established for forming Christ’s character and compassion from the inside out?
Unlike fast food establishments, the church was never meant to be a quick drive thru stop on Sunday, no more than Jesus can be made-to-order. The church was once planted and meant to give bloom in our hearts and homes, and then extend roots out into our neighborhoods and communities. You are the church. We are the church. Your home is a church.
With Jesus at the center of our hearts and homes, we are compelled to serve, not to be served. We come to church to worship a Holy God, not to be entertained. We fellowship in the Spirit, not to self-indulge. We thirst and hunger for righteousness for His name’s sake and feast on The Word. As the old hymn says, “You can have all this world, just give me Jesus”. Just plain Jesus.
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Nowadays, you won’t see me frequent McDonald’s very much for reasons I probably don’t need to explain. Except for the occasional soft serve. And fries. Which, if you’re talented, you can dip into your ice cream cone. Just saying.
Instead, I hope you find me being the church and resembling more of Jesus. I hope you find me serving and working and making spiritually hungry people smile. Not necessarily because they are happy, but because I’m reminding them that Christ has made us holy.
Perhaps what initially captivated me as a child about McDonald’s wasn’t too far from the reality of God’s Kingdom. His Kingdom is a place of order and service and making people smile because there are literally no more tears. It’s a place that, once we find it, keeps us coming back for more. A place where God has saved a spot at the table for all of His children.
So the next time you pass by the golden arches, I hope you think about the streets of gold in heaven where Jesus longs to meet you, face to face. And maybe, just maybe, at the table there will be soft serve, and fries.