A few weeks ago I went out for supper with my family, a casual meal at a ‘family’ restaurant. Unfortunately, from food quality to customer service to cleanliness, there were problems. Despite asking our wait staff to address the concerns, little was rectified. The experience was so unpleasant, I later (privately, not social media) contacted the manager, who replied in a timely and polite manner, even offering to mail me a voucher to return to the establishment.
It’s an easy fix. However, it just didn’t work for me. While thankful for the offer, I declined the voucher, and instead suggested that if the manager was truly wanting to make a goodwill gesture, a donation (in cash, not comp voucher) could be made to a local food bank.
This suggestion, obviously, is not such an easy fix for the manager.
Firstly, it showed I was not merely out to get something for myself for free. Secondly, the system (and our culture) are set up for the anonymous easy-fix, such that vouchers are pre-printed and readily available. Thirdly, a voucher requires me to return to that place, with additional expenditures being likely. Fourthly, a donation would necessitate the manager justifying the opening of wallet or petty cash box, and thereby giving the action some intentional consideration.
Now, I have no idea if the manager followed through on my suggestion. I expect the offer was sincere and given with the best of intentions – but it was an easy fix.
This has given me pause to consider how we as Christians sometimes get stuck in our own ‘easy fix’; situations where we mean the best and we want to help but our actions reflect a quick, socially-accepted (and expected) solution in place of a deeper (sometimes more challenging) relationship building:
*when we say “I’ll pray for you” and we mean it; but our prayers can be forgotten in the busyness of life, or used to ask God to change someone to how we think they should be
*when we try to relieve awkwardness and hurt feelings by sharing other people’s concerns; but we inadvertently end up triangulating communications or escalating confusion
*when we give someone else what we think they need; instead of asking how we might assist them in their journey
*when we come to church so that we can feel good about ourselves; instead of gathering in community to humbly offer ourselves in service in God’s world
*when we focus on the building of community just as a source of fellowship; and don’t realise that we are neglecting our call to discipleship.
*when we are willing to give; when we are not willing to give; when we have lost the willingness to receive (consider my friend Kyle’s poignant discussion from last week)
There are other examples, of course. And in all cases, I trust that people have the best of intentions when they respond to the complexities of life with the ‘easy fix’ statements or solutions. We want to be helpful, after all. We want to be loving. And we want things to be better.
Yet I feel that as Christians we’re called to look beyond the ‘easy fix.’ We’re called into the deeper, muckier, harder realities of life. We’re called to journey together with our eyes fixed on Christ, even when that means going against the comfortable flow of societal norms. Jesus did not offer us an ‘easy fix,’ but a worthwhile path toward salvation.
May our love and service to God’s world be deeper and more faithful than settling for the ‘easy fix.’