Last night, we had a visioning meeting as we were visioning and talking about what a third worship service might look like at our church. We invited a church member who works in the entertainment industry to do a demographic test in a 4 mile radius from our church.
As he was explaining his findings, he finally ended with, “in our business, and in all businesses, convenience is king.”
People choose websites based on convenience. They choose Netflix over Blockbuster because of convenience. They choose movies based on convenience. They choose where to shop based on convenience. And ultimately, they choose churches based on convenience.
Not surprisingly, I’m sure many people choose to put faith in God when it is convenient for them.
Perhaps that’s why our churches are failing to a point. We don’t combat the convenience of faith, but maybe we play part in encouraging it. We cater to what people are really looking for. We’re trying to make it as convenient as possible for them. Which isn’t completely wrong, but it’s not completely right either.
And, still not surprising, you may find that people view God as a convenient God. God doesn’t want anything from you. God just wants you to be happy. God just wants you to be good. God just wants you to try your best, mmmkay?
From my gathering and reading of the Bible, I don’t think that’s the God I read about.
God is anything but convenient.
This God is a God that crosses boundaries for the sake of love. God, in Jesus, crossed the boundaries of life and death; of heaven, earth AND hell; of spirituality and physicality, all for the sake of sacrificial love. And not surprisingly, this God also calls for us to love sacrificially. I mean, after all, if we are followers of Christ, shouldn’t we follow in his foot steps? John writes in 1 John 2:6, “Whoever claims to live in him must live as Jesus did.”
Oh. But you see. We have tried to make Jesus look more and more like us, rather than us looking more and more like him. Because, it’s easier to follow Jesus when we stuff him in a box that he doesn’t belong in. But the Jesus that exists outside of our boxes, or outside of our bubbles, that’s a scary Jesus. That Jesus wants to change us. That Jesus ruins our lives. That Jesus pushes us where we don’t want to go. That Jesus makes up plans for us that we don’t want to do. That Jesus tells us to go to places where we wouldn’t be caught DEAD in.
As I kid, if something scared me to death, I’d throw it under the bed, so that I wouldn’t have to see it.
In a sense, for the sake of convenience, we throw the real Jesus under the bed, so that we don’t really have to see Jesus and what he really stood for; who he really loved; who he really served.
Jesus is much easier to follow when he’s a Republican like I am.
Jesus is much easier to follow when he’s a Democrat like I am.
Jesus is much easier to follow when he hates the same people I hate.
Jesus is much easier to swallow when he believes in what I believe in; when he is a champion for a cause I believe in…
We were made in the image of God, but for the sake of convenience, we returned the favor.
But Jesus is anything but convenient.
Christ is asking his followers for more than a commitment, he is asking for our lives. All aspects of our lives. There’s nothing convenient about that.
And perhaps we don’t talk about it as much in churches, but this God makes demands. Yes! Jesus makes demands!
“Have no other gods before me!”
“Love one another as I have loved you!”
Jesus called fishermen to follow him, and they dropped their nets and left at once. By them dropping their nets, they were leaving behind a world that they knew, they were leaving behind what they were comfortable with, they were leaving behind their families and friends… where’s the convenience in that?
I have fallen into some traps of convenience here and there.
This Lent season, I’m going to focus on the words of Jesus in the Gospels, and have the Spirit lead me out of my comfort zone. I’m going stop settling for convenience. I’m going to stop stuffing the scary Jesus in a box, under my bed. Instead I’m going start letting Christ lead me. I’m going to start letting Christ “ruin” my life.