This past summer I spent a few days with our District Superintendents (DSs) in Quebec. During this time, one of the things I quickly became aware of was the way meals are presented and enjoyed. Food in Quebec is an experience. It is viewed as an opportunity to linger long in the atmosphere of the moment and savour every bite. The DSs and I would start dinner at 5:30 p.m. and sometimes not finish until after 9:00 p.m. Each course was served with flair and ample time was given to engage with each entrée. To be honest, I was initially frustrated with the long pauses and the unhurried pace. I am a fast food kind of guy. I love food but I want it quick. It is a necessary stop on my way to something else. My concern is how often we tend to treat Jesus like “fast food”.
Recently, I spent a day of prayer to slow down my world and tend to the inner space of my soul. It took me almost four hours to quiet my fast-paced mind so I could be still enough to listen to God. I sensed God challenging my “fast food” relationship with Him.
“David, my son, if you want to hear my voice, you must turn down the volume of everything else in your world. It is not enough to say I am enough; you must be filled with Me alone, so you live out of fulness not emptiness. I want to give you abundance and you are treating me like “fast food!” I am the necessary stop on the way to somewhere else. It is not sustainable and you cannot lead strong without “sit down” lingering moments in my presence. Intimacy with me in private will result in courage when you are in public. Downloads of my wisdom and knowledge are not favours I give; they flow out of “live-streamed” intimacy with me.”
Jesus spoke to Phillip and said, “Don’t you know me, Philip, even after I have been among you such a long time?” (John 14:9). These words were not spoken as a rebuke, but rather as an invitation. Jesus was encouraging Philip to draw closer – to enjoy Jesus like one would a meal in Quebec – to engage with His wisdom, be embraced by His love, and be transformed by His truth; to recognize that Jesus is God in human flesh and if we have seen Him, we have seen the Father (John 14:9). It is far too easy to settle for “fast food” spirituality and miss the manifest presence of Jesus in our lives. I often think of the two men walking with Jesus on the road to Emmaus in Luke 24. They pleaded (“urged him strongly” – v.29) with Jesus to stay with them and enjoy a “sit down” meal together. It was during this meal, while lingering in His presence, that “…their eyes were opened, and they recognized him…” (Luke 24:31). It is time for us to our “fast food” encounters with God and make Jesus the necessary stop on the way to everything, allowing the presence of Jesus to “open our eyes” so we see Him in all His radiance. As the men on the road to Emmaus discovered, the burning in their hearts (Luke 24:32) was not “fast food” heartburn but rather “fire-filled” heart-transformation! AB Simpson wrote,
“I had to learn to take from Him my spiritual life every second, to breathe Himself in as I breathed, and breathe myself out. So, moment by moment for the spirit, and moment by moment for the body, we must receive… It comes so naturally, so spontaneously, so like a fountain, without consciousness, without effort, for true life is always easy, and overflowing.” 1
I hear the invitation of God to linger long in the presence of Jesus and find my strength solely from a posture of intimacy with Christ. Do you hear it too? The invitation is to “fire-filled” heart-transformation – “O God, with all our hearts, we long for You. Come, transform us to be Christ-centred, Spirit-empowered, Mission-focused people, multiplying disciples everywhere.”
1 A.B. Simpson, excerpt from his sermon, Himself
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In 2012, General Assembly elected David Hearn as President of The Christian and Missionary Alliance in Canada. He was elected to a second term in 2016, during which he completed his Doctor of Ministry degree. At the 2020 Meeting of Members, David was elected to his third and final term. David’s passion is to see the C&MA in Canada as a Christ-centred, Spirit-empowered, and Mission-focused movement. He often quotes A.B. Simpson, founder of the Alliance, who declared, “This movement stands for a spirit of self-sacrifice, adjustment, adaptation and single-hearted love for people. We are called to a spirit so possessed with one supreme object, to gain men and women for Christ, that it sweeps over every other consideration in its over mastering purpose of love.”