The Project Triangle┬áis something we use frequently in communicating project constraints to clients. I’m not sure who originally came up with it, but it’s brilliant due to its accuracy, simplicity, and universality. It doesn’t matter whether you’re building software or skyscrapers; pretty much any project is subject, in some degree, to the Project Triangle.

While it’s been tweaked and adjusted, reworded and redesigned, the core message of the Project Triangle has remained the same. Any product owner likely wants his/her product delivered cheap, fast, and with all the quality/quantity envisioned. In reality, however, one of those three items always has to be compromised.

Simply stated: cheap, fast, good… pick two.

So what does that have to do with the Christian walk? Let’s talk about the life change that walking with Christ should bring about. But first, I want to make sure we’re on the same page about a couple key foundations to my point…

Foundation 1: Christ Changes Lives

First off, you must understand one core principle: a relationship with Christ changes lives. If you consider yourself a Christian and He doesn’t govern your day-to-day decisions (and I’m not talking about letting your “faith” temper your selection at your local Redbox in some guilt-driven or legalistic manner), you should seriously and prayerfully examine the nature of your relationship with Jesus.

In other words, if you’re considering entering a marriage, having children, buying a house, taking a job, or even changing churches without praying and seeking God on the decision, you’re dropping the ball. But guess what? If He has anything short of “final say” in your dating relationships, monthly budget, parenting methods, friendships, or volunteer activities, you’re still missing the point of Lordship. I know, because I’ve done it for most of my adult life.

Don’t kid yourself. Repeating words with your eyes closed is not the same as making Him Lord of your life. And Christ demands (and deserves) no less than being Lord.

Foundation 2: The Microwave Society

With that disclaimer settled, let’s now look at modern Western society. We are frequently accused of having a “microwave mentality” due to our incessant need to have everything now. While impatience is certainly a factor, there’s more to the convenience of microwave usage that holds additional truth for this metaphor.

A second facet of this metaphor is that most food heated in the microwave requires very little effort. Sure, you could spend 12 hours preparing a meal and use a microwave to reheat its leftovers two days later, but the effort involved in the preparation for the second meal is generally insignificant.

Interestingly enough, there’s a third element that reveals something significant about our society. Few people reasonably expect their microwave meal to be as good as a genuine, home-cooked meal. The prominence of microwaves in America clearly represents the fact that we, as a culture, have already made our compromise on the Project Triangle as it pertains to our meals. We are willing to sacrifice some quality to end up with fast, cheap (in effort, as time = money) food.

The Concept

Now that we’re all seeing eye-to-eye, let’s build up this concept. First, identifying the three elements we’re working with, as they pertain to the Christian walk. Essentially, this is all about life change. Life change can happen quickly (see Paul’s instant conversion). It can happen without much effort (see Solomon’s simple prayer). It can happen without really sticking (see Judas Iscariot’s walk with Christ and subsequent betrayal).

Paul‘s change was instantaneous, but he had to work for it. He sacrificed years of his life after his conversion before really launching his ministry. And throughout that ministry, he was more than inconvenienced on more than one occasion. Despite that, though, he remains to this day one of the most respected individuals in Christian history due to the impact he had on the early church. He had it fast and good, but it wasn’t cheap. Today, we might call these sacrificial Christians.

Solomon had a good father who instilled moral code and a heart for God’s will. His father did the work that prepared him for making a smart decision one day. Then, when his Father offered him any one thing, he chose wisdom. His Father did the work that equipped him to be the wisest man of his time. In fact, some consider him to be the wisest man of all time, so clearly that life change had some staying power. It took time, however, for him to grow into it. He wasn’t known worldwide overnight. He got it cheap and good, but it wasn’t fast. Today, we might call these well-churched Christians.

Scariest of all, Judas Iscariot had direct exposure to Christ for the bulk of His ministry. He walked with “God with us” through the streets, witnessing countless miracles. In fact, I’d be willing to bet that he performed miracles through God’s power just like his eleven comrades. At the very least, we can be relatively certain that his relationship with Jesus was closer than all but 15 to 20 (11 disciples plus closest friends and family) people on the planet, and his exposure to and involvement in Christ’s ministry was at least more than all but 11 people. He, like his fellows, was called to Christ’s side and found a completely different lifestyle waiting for him. Effectively, his change was overnight. It took still more time for the true life change to fully develop with the other disciples. Ultimately, however, exposure and involvement weren’t enough. He had it cheap and fast, but it wasn’t good. Today, we might call these bottle-rocket Christians.

The Override

All that said, this is food for thought, not doctrine. Ultimately, the Lord demand all. I must be willing to pay a high price for a long time and remain fully submitted to Him for the rest of eternity. Application of the Project Triangle in the spiritual arena is an idea, and all ideas and principles must always be on the altar before God.
It seems interesting to me, and it seems true. But there is no substitute for His Truth.