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We live in a push-button culture. You might recall the Staples commercials of a few years ago featuring the “Easy Button”. Press the glowing red button with “EASY” printed in block capital letters and Staples granted your every wish (provided they were office-supply related). What only a few years ago was clever marketing wish-fulfillment has become a near-reality thanks to mega-corporations like Amazon. Amazon’s Dash buttons, which began as an April Fools gag, allow us to order everything from laundry detergent to groceries at the push of a button. In Dallas, Amazon features same-day delivery.
We hardly have to wait for anything anymore. Could it really be long until we reach the Star Trek future where we simply ask and our tea, Earl Grey, hot appears in our hand?
Churches have struggled in the Push Button Age. Worshipers see ourselves as consumers seeking to maximize our profit margin. As we shop for the right church, we wonder which will give us the best return on investment (of our time and, less frequently, our tithe monies). We want a push-button God of the sort promised by the inevitable Christian T-shirt that reimagined the Staples button as the Jesus button, complete with the catchphrase “Jesus: it’s just that easy.”
There’s a level on which that is true: God’s grace is a free gift to us. We don’t have to complete a checklist or go through some sort of self-improvement training regimen for God to love us or to surrender to a relationship with our creator. The beginning of faith is, indeed, that easy.
But saying Yes to Jesus isn’t the end of our story. It’s the beginning of a journey. This second half of salvation is what theologians call ‘sanctification’ – it’s the process by which God makes us holy.
There’s no easy button for sanctification. Transformation takes a lot of patience.
Barbecue has been a guide on my journey of patience.
Low and slow isn’t optional, not if you want good barbecue.