The Gospel of Convenience
1. the state of being able to proceed with something with little effort or difficulty.
“Anyone who comes after me must deny himself, take up his cross and follow me. Anyone who wants to save his life will lose it, and anyone who loses his life for me will find It. “ – Jesus
One of today’s most popular church rants is shaped to sound something like this, “Christianity today has become like a fast food restaurant, you can line up and have it your way.” There are many variations of this, from describing Christianity like a buffet line where you can pick and choose what you like, or a drive thru at a Starbucks. Whichever form or iteration you have heard I want to be clear the sentiment and the thought is a good one. In fact these arguments, opinions and lines of thinking are full of biblical truth. My point is not to dissect these views in where they are in error, rather I wish we would actually embrace, and model these biblical ideals. I wish when we read the bible or heard a lesson we all asked ourselves, “what does this currently look like in my life?” or “What must I obey in order for this to be a reality in my life?” Paul said very plainly, “Follow me as I follow Christ”. Today we have changed that to: “Follow this curriculum, this study series, this idea at your convenience and then you will be following Christ”
So, in regards to this idea of convenience and being a disciple of Jesus, let’s change the narrative a bit. Everyone agrees that the American gospel has exalted convenience to one of its highest values. We have romanticized the idea that being a disciple should be so organic and so automatic we shouldn’t schedule anything. Everyone should just come and go and do life in a way that doesn’t require anyone to have to yield to anyone else at all. Yet, we agree that there wasn’t anything convenient about the cross of Jesus or the life he calls his followers to live.
In order to take something like this from theory to practice we must begin by asking ourselves and our friends a few questions. Unfortunately, most times we begin by asking the wrong question to ourselves and to our brothers and sisters. We ask, “How are you doing?” A question that can be answered in any number of ways, but usually describes a behavior we are doing or not doing. The question leads us to a false conclusion about the gospel. Instead, let’s ask ourselves a couple of different questions. Specifically when it comes to convenience, “How do you react when someone inconveniences you?” This may take some time to think about it. Ever been in a line that was just too slow? Think of your last Starbucks experience. Ever had a hard time finding a consistent weekly meeting time with your small group? (CFC members think group of 3) Struggling to find a time that is convenient for all? Transformation and discipleship, as well as the need for one another takes a distant second to convenience. Do you have a friend that would love to study the bible but you can’t seem to find a convenient time? Let’s ask one more question. How is your attitude when you agree to be inconvenienced? When you finally give in to that early meeting time, when you realize in order to serve, will require inconvenience. Do you still give your all? Even if it means you will have to study a little later, or watch less TV. Maybe it means you play one less video game or discipline yourself to stay off of social media for a time? Is your attitude still like Jesus?
Convenience and the necessity to deny ourselves are inversely proportional. This may be the root of the matter. Denying myself implies inconvenience. I don’t get to do it may way all the time. My first question as a disciple is, “what would Jesus have me do?” Most times, we decide what we will do with our days, weeks, and activities. We pack in everything we want to do, parties, concerts, movies, video games, visits home, etc. Then we attempt to fit everything else in. By everything else I mean all the things Jesus wants us to do in order to be the church to our families, households, neighborhoods and communities. Does this ring a bell? What does repentance look like in your life to break free of the convenience gospel? I leave you with this passage:
"What do you think? There was a man who had two sons. He went to the first and said, 'Son, go and work today in the vineyard.'
" 'I will not,' he answered, but later he changed his mind and went.
"Then the father went to the other son and said the same thing. He answered, 'I will, sir,' but he did not go.
"Which of the two did what his father wanted?""The first," they answered. Jesus said to them, "Truly I tell you, the tax collectors and the prostitutes are entering the kingdom of God ahead of you. For John came to you to show you the way of righteousness, and you did not believe him, but the tax collectors and the prostitutes did. And even after you saw this, you did not repent and believe him.” Matthew 21:28-31