Have It Your Way

In 1974, Burger King was looking for a way to distinguish themselves from McDonald’s.  At the time, when you went out for fast food, things were not as customizable as they are today.  If you went to McDonald’s for a hamburger, you got a bun, diced onions, ketchup, two pickles, and a beef patty.  That was it.  You could request changes and additions, but I’m not sure how well received those requests would be.  Burger King appealed to the increasing cultural emphasis on individualism by introducing the slogan, “Have it your way”.  They wisely appealed to something that was becoming more and more expected in our society: personal preference.            

It’s not my intention to decry personal preference in all things.  I like mustard on my burgers over mayo.  I like to choose the spicier option with my chicken and sauces.  Who doesn’t take for granted being able to choose something as basic as the color of their car’s paint?  But again, this wasn’t always the case.  In the early days of automobiles, Henry Ford once famously said in a meeting with his sales force, “Any customer can have a car painted any color that he wants so long as it is black.”  People a few generations ago were okay with fewer options because there were simply fewer options.  Imagine a car dealership today with only one make and model of vehicle all painted black.  They would probably not do very well. 

We live in a time when personalization and individual preference is such a high priority that we seem almost insulted when we can’t have what we want exactly the way we want.   You can’t tell a customer anymore, “I’m sorry, that’s not an option.”, without meeting the alter ego of many suburban housewives: Karen. 

As Christians, we need to realize that our perception of “normal” and even “acceptable” is based on our age, history, background, upbringing, but also the cultural norms in which we live.  That can affect how we behave in situations ranging from trivial customer service encounters to the much more serious questions of Bible authority. 



You see, we know that God never said, “Have it your way”.  We understand that the kingdom of God is NOT a democracy.  We do not have the power to appeal His decisions.  We have no authority to ignore, omit, or add to His will for us.  Isn’t that exactly the point in Rev. 22:18-19? “For I testify to everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: If anyone adds to these things, God will add to him the plagues that are written in this book; and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part from the Book of Life, from the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book”

There is no room in spiritual matters of doctrine for personal preference.  Denominationalism has appealed to the misconception that there is.  How many small-town newspapers over the past several decades have had a section titled “Visit the church of your choice” or something similar?  “Church choice” has become as normal and acceptable as the menu options at a restaurant, with every flavor of doctrine (or lack thereof) available.  You want a big church with entertainment options for the kids?  Check.  You’ve been looking for a church with contemporary and traditional services?  Check.  You want faith only?  You’ve got options.  You want a group to be okay with your drinking or unscriptural divorce or sexual preference, etc.?  You can find it.  This leads to a “religious” society of people waiting to be catered to rather than THE CHURCH: a group of God fearing, God loving, God serving Christians.  God didn’t talk about doctrinal options; He specified a very singular and specific faith in Eph 4:4-6 – “There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.”

God does give us the ability to choose.  Christianity is a choice, but that choice is based on whether we want to serve or be served.  Instead of “Have it your way”, God, in the most loving and gracious way possible says, “Take it or leave it”.  He lovingly says it the way a Creator giving the greatest gift imaginable can say to an undeserving creation.  God’s will says, “I am giving you forgiveness, love, and life at great cost.  Please accept it!”.   He loves us.  He desperately desires that we will accept the free gift He offers.  We just can’t believe that means we can have it our way.


2 Peter 3:9 - The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.