Summary: We are to be disciples not converts.
This is the season of Lent. Lent is the 40 period prior to Easter in which Christians have been encouraged to remember the sacrifice of Christ on the cross for our salvation by giving up something for the entire 40 days. For some persons some type of food, like chocolate, is given up.
Speaking of food, much has been said this past year about the fat content in fast food and there has been at least one lawsuit filed against McDonalds for their negligence in contributing to the obesity problem in this country.
Earlier this year a federal judge dismissed a class action lawsuit on behalf of New York children against McDonald’s. In fact, there were five counts of alleged wrongdoing against the fast-food company.
One count charged that McDonald’s “deceived the public by stating its foods were nutritious and encouraging consumers to “supersize” meals without disclosing negative health effects.”
Another count alleged that McDonald’s “acted negligently by selling foods high in cholesterol, fat, salt and sugar - ingredients that cause obesity and detrimental health effects.” In response to this count the judge said, “Nobody is forced to eat at McDonalds [or to] supersize their meals... [And] as long as a consumer exercises free choice with appropriate knowledge, liability for negligence will not attach to a manufacturer.”
So I ask you, McDonald’s or Cracker Barrel? Golden arches or rocking chairs and great gifts? Big Mac or Turnip Greens?
I asked this past week both via e-mail and face-to-face “McDonalds or Cracker Barrel?” Of those who responded 12 were for Cracker Barrel and 4 for McDonalds. A 3 to 1 margin.
As we continue to consider what it means to be a faithfully functioning church, we must also consider the dangers of a fast food faith as well. For just as poor eating can lead to health problems so can the lack of proper spiritual nutrients lead to a lack of spiritual growth and health.
In a very important passage of scripture, Matthew 28: 19, Jesus tells His disciples to go and make disciples not converts. Have you ever wonder why Jesus used the word “disciple” and not the word “convert?”
We preach in our tradition the need for conversion. And, of course, it is my desire, as well as yours, that people experience saving faith through confession and repentance of their sins. But, there is more to the Christian life that just getting saved. Scripture is clear that spiritual life and growth is essential and necessary to fully experience life with God.
In our main text that was read earlier, Hebrews 5:11 - 6:3, the problem and more importantly, the dangers of a fast-food faith is confronted. And we need to understand the context of this segment before we look more closely at it.
The opening chapters of Hebrews deal with the person and work of Jesus Christ. But, by the time the author gets to verse 10 of chapter 5, there is a pause and a change of direction, “There is so much more we would like to say about this. But you don’t seem to listen, so it’s hard to make you understand. You have been Christians a long time now, and you ought to be teaching others.” Why is this statement made? Why is there a sudden change of direction? Why does the spiritual maturity of this group of followers become an issue? One possibility comes to mind, the lack of spiritual maturity is keeping this church from understanding and experiencing more of what God has for them!
Now let’s be honest, some people get offended at these statements. “How dare this is said about believers! What right have you to tell us we can’t handle this teaching! What right have you to tell us that we are still like babies who can have solid food! We’re Christians! We’ve been saved!”
As I reflected on this passage, Id something that I often do with scripture for the purpose of trying to understand it. I read it backward, starting with the last verse and ending with the first verse.
Let’s read this passage backward, “And so, God willing, we will move forward to further understanding. You don’t need further instructions about baptisms, the laying on of hands, the resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment. So let us stop going over the basics of Christianity again and again. Let us go on instead and become more mature in our understanding. Surely we don’t need to start all over again with the importance of turning away from evil deeds and placing our faith in God.
Solid food is for those who are mature, who have trained themselves to recognize the difference between right and wrong and then do what is right. And a person who is living on milk isn’t very far along in the Christian life and doesn’t know much about doing what is right. You have been Christians a long time now, and you ought to be teaching others. Instead you need someone to teach you again the basic things a beginner must learn about the Scriptures. You are like babies who drink only milk and cannot eat solid food. There is so much more we would like to say about this. But, you don’t seem to listen, so it’s hard to make you understand.”