I recently read a Los Angeles Times article titled "Worship on the go starts taking root: More books, electronic media offer quick hits."
The article states:
"So you're racing through another jam-packed day, late picking up the kids from basketball practice because you got stuck at the office. Then you pay the bills, walk the dog and perhaps grab cold pizza before collapsing into bed."
Look at the words to describe this person:
"racing," "late," "stuck," "grab" and "collapsing." The article says that the trend for a person like this is to make time for God via resources such as The One Minute Bible Day by Day, and the 5 Minute Theologian: Maximum Truth in Minimum Time. The key words being "one minute" and "minimum." Notice how it's implied that the time we devote to our faith can be short and convenient. It's not held up as a priority. Otherwise, the books would be titled the One Hour Bible Day by Day or the 5 Hour Theologian: Maximum Truth for However Long it Takes!
Another resource the article mentions is Aunt Susie's 10 Minute Bible Dinners: Bringing God into Your Life One Dish at a Time. Okay, sorry, but this title reminds me of the people who fast because they can diet at the same time. You know, kill two birds with one stone!
The article goes on to state that "The American style of worship, like everything else in overloaded lives, is speeding up. Call it God on the go." I say, "Time Out." Notice the "like everything else?" Faith is relegated to being something we squeeze in. We aren't to remove something in our life to make time for faith. Instead, we are to cram faith in wherever we can find a five-minute spot. Faith carries no more weight than brushing our teeth or filing our nails. And we are to gulp it down quickly so we can get on to the next thing.
Can you imagine Mary, having heard from the angel that she was to bear the "Son of the Most High," telling the angel to "hurry up, you’ve got one minute?" Can you imagine if she packed her lunch, tuned into the Weather Channel and looked for her shoes at the same time the angel was trying to make his proclamation to her? Do you think Mary would say "Hey, could you talk to me while I drive? I’m running late." Rather, in Luke 2:19 we find that "Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart."
The LA Times article reports that there has been a rise in books, DVDs, podcasts, text messages and "e-mail blasts" that "distill the essentials of faith." I have no doubt that they distill. It's the essentials I'm doubtful about, and what happens to them in the process of distillation.
An executive editor at B&H Publishing, which produces the One-Minute Bible, is quoted in the article as saying, "It's not meant to replace the Bible. It's meant to whet your appetite." Leaving aside the question of whether or not a "quick hit" actually does launch one on to the reading of the Bible, what strikes me again is the underlying implication and attitude towards faith and God that these "quick hits" promote. They condone a busy (some would say insane) lifestyle that only has one minute for God. It is that very attitude that I believe will cause these "quick hits" to become the main meal and not the appetizer.
The Bible says we are to be in the world, not of it. God is to be number one, the top priority, in preference to and in authority over the "everything else" in life. The fruit of the Spirit--love, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23)--are the true markers of a faithful disciple of Jesus Christ, and they contrast mightily with the grabby, late, chasing, collapsing-to-exhaustion lifestyle that throws a token five minutes God's way. But these books would have you believe that faith is no different or more important than rushing off to the dentist's office.
If a one-minute radio devotion reaches a non-believer and plants the seed that takes them into church and fellowship with Christians, and leads them to God’s Word and a saving faith in Jesus Christ, wonderful! But somehow I don't believe that's the target audience for the 5 Minute Theologian and 10 Minute Bible Dinners.
There are no short cuts to God, and He's not to be relegated to something to check off the daily "to do" list. When we spend quantity as well as quality time with God through Jesus Christ and His Holy Spirit, we find that life stops being "grabby, racing, late, stuck and collapsing." Life becomes the life that Jesus calls us to, however long it takes.
"But his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night." Psalm 1:2
"The seed that fell among thorns stands for those who hear, but as they go on their way they are choked by life’s worries, riches and pleasures, and they do not mature.” Luke 8:14
"God is spirit, and his worshippers must worship in spirit and truth." John 4:24
"They devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer." Acts 2:42
"Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness. But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil. Therefore let us leave the elementary teachings about Christ and go on to maturity..." Hebrews 5:13-14; 6:1