The Gospel according to P.F. Chang

Ever notice how many great theologians go by their initials: C.S. Lewis, G.K. Chesterton, and A.W. Towser.  Today we’ll look at the Gospel according to that great theologian P. F. Chang.

Last week I headed out to P.F. Chang’s Chinese Bistro with a group of friends for dinner and dessert to celebrate a birthday. The conversation was flowing, and we glanced at the dinner menu and decided what we wanted for dinner. Almond Chicken sounded great to me. We also ordered appetizers to share. We all downed a few bites of spring rolls, calamari, and lettuce wraps (a personal favorite of mine). After salads and wonton soup, the main course arrived. There was Kung Pao Chicken, Orange Peel Shrimp, Sweet and Sour Pork, Mongolian beef, and even some healthy dinner salads. And of course lots of rice and noodles to go around.

About half way through dinner it hit me: I was starting to feel a little full. After a few more bites, I began to think that fitting in dessert was not gonna’ happen for me. A few minutes later the waitress came and asked if we wanted to see dessert menus. There were raised eyebrows and questioning looks around the table, but a few of the heartier appetites agreed to at least scan the menu. Those desserts sounded great. But I was stuffed. Someone even said that just looking at the menu was giving him indigestion.

A couple of folks with heartier appetites ended up splitting slices of the “Great Wall of Chocolate:” Six layers of rich chocolate cake with dark chocolate chips and a raspberry sauce. They were so full that they didn’t really enjoy it much. And by the time they got their desserts many of us were ready to go, so they rushed through a few bites and called it good.

That’s when it hit me: Sometimes we treat God like dessert at P.F. Chang’s.

We start each day like a trip to the restaurant fully intending to work God in to a busy schedule crammed full with lettuce wraps, shrimp, and noodles, you name it. Maybe the appetizer at your life restaurant is The Today Show, or the morning newspaper. Maybe the main course is a full day at the office, or even a Saturday hike with the family. Maybe my combo platter includes along commute home, Maybe you’ve got a side dish of Walking Dead or American Idol in the evening, or maybe it’s setting up for dinner over at the church. 

Now many of the things that leave our lives too full for God are great and as healthy as a chicken salad. What are some of those things for you? The problem comes when we’d planned to include dessert at the life restaurant, but all these other things leave us so full that we’ve got no room for the sweetest part of life… Our relationship with Christ. You find yourself skipping it altogether, or shoveling it in so fast that you can’t enjoy it.

If we’re not intentional about it, our relationship with God will end up being rushed, unsatisfying, or skipped all together after a full menu of life’s business. The question for me is: How do we make sure that our daily trip to the restaurant of life leaves room for God? Once when Jesus was eating at the home of a prominent Pharisee, he had a few things to say about a fancy dinner. Check out Luke 14:15-23 for a few of Jesus’ ideas on The Great Banquet.