During a visioning meeting, we invited a member who works in the entertainment industry to do a demographic test within a 4 mile radius from our church. As he was sharing his ï¬ndings with us, he ï¬nally ended with, “In our business, in any business, convenience is king.”
People choose websites based on convenience. They choose Netï¬ix over Blockbuster because of convenience. (Although many probably now will opt out of Netï¬ix due to the price hike.) They choose movies based on convenience. They choose where to shop based on convenience. And ultimately, they choose churches based on convenience.
Not surprisingly, 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 idea that faith should be convenient—in fact, we may actually play a part in encouraging it. We cater to what people are looking for. We try to make everything as convenient as possible for them. That's not completely wrong, but it’s not completely right either.
And, still not surprising is the idea 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 loves you just the way you are and wouldn’t change a darn thing about you.
But that's not the God I read about in the Bible. God is anything but convenient. God is a God who 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 sacriï¬cial love. And not surprisingly, this God also calls us to love sacriï¬cially. After all, if we are followers of Christ, shouldn’t we follow in his footsteps? John writes in 1 John 2:6, “Whoever claims to live in him must live as Jesus did.”
But so many of us have tried to make Jesus look more and more like us, rather than us looking more and more like him. 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 is 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 we wouldn’t be caught dead in.
As a kid, if something scared me to death, I’d throw it under the bed so I wouldn’t have to see it. For the sake of convenience, maybe we throw the real Jesus under the bed so we don’t really have to see him 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 follow when he believes in what I believe in; when he is a champion for a cause I believe in…
Paraphrasing a famous quote, we were made in the image of God, but for the sake of convenience, we returned the favor.
Jesus 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. 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 ï¬shermen to follow him, and they dropped their nets and left at once. By 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?
We need to stop settling for convenience and start looking for a God-driven purpose. As pastors, we can't allow our congregations to settle for the easier road. We need to push them (and ourselves) so that we become disciples of Christ and go make disciples of Christ, all for the transformation of the world.