As a pastor and spiritual leader, I must firmly assert that I do not believe in instant gratification. In fact, I think it’s harming our society and the church in ways that we don’t yet fully understand. For instance, for the first time in nearly 100 years, the average life expectancy is going down and not up. Even all the advances in science and medicine can’t make up for the deficits in a culture that has traded the satisfaction of hard work and a job completed through process for an instant download or a quick-fix.
Not only is the constant stream of data and information contributing to issues like anxiety and depression, but there’s a new crisis called anhedonia, which is a clinical problem with the brain where people can’t experience pleasure. Because they have been so affected by loud music, bright screens, and the constant buzz of video games, social media, and mobile devices, a lot of young people are unable to feel any sort of emotion. This inability to function as relational beings in a world that was created by a relational God is tragic, and it’s taking its toll on the physical, emotional, and spiritual health of our world.
Discipleship, my friend, is about taking up your cross and following Jesus so you can forgo instant gratification and attain eternal life, and that doesn’t just mean Heaven when you die. The existence Jesus purchased for you on the cross means free, full, and abundantly amazing life here and now — this is what living in the Kingdom of God looks like. Your birthright is found on the narrow road, and although there will be many forks along the way that tempt you to shortcut, I implore you to stay the course and keep your eyes fixed on the beauty of your Savior. Embrace the long way around and welcome the power of process so you can live your best life!