Sometimes my husband and I go to church on Saturday night because it is more convenient than Sunday morning. Sometimes I ignore a plea for volunteer service because it would be inconvenient. Of course, we have the freedom to go to church on a Saturday night and we literally cannot volunteer in every capacity that is available, but I wonder if I over-value convenience.
Did God ever tell anyone that following Him should be convenient?
It wasn’t convenient for Abraham to move to a place unknown.
It wasn’t convenient for Joseph to spend years in servitude and prison.
It wasn’t convenient for Moses to confront Pharaoh or to lead the rebellious nation of Israel around the desert for 40 years.
It wasn’t convenient for David to run from Saul for years and eventually fight to establish Israel’s security.
It wasn’t convenient for Mary, a virgin, to give birth to the Savior, nor was it particularly convenient for Joseph, her betrothed, to marry her in spite of her situation.
And it certainly wasn’t convenient for Jesus to give up his heavenly home and live among the sin and pride and evil of this world eventually submitting to a cruel and outrageously unjust death.
In our comfortable culture where information is conveniently at our fingertips at any time, where favorite television programs can be watched anytime and anyplace, and where rides can be hired or food can be ordered in minutes, we may have become addicted to convenience.
Technological conveniences simply make the question more obvious. Is our priority the gospel, the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, and our call in his work or do we give first preference to our own agendas and personal convenience?
I confess that convenience too often takes priority over Jesus’s call in my life.
As I thought about this I took a quick look through a few of Paul’s epistles, because I know that Paul was completely sold out for the gospel. He would have, and he did, put up with any inconvenience, imprisonment and worse to make the truth of Jesus Christ real to anyone and everyone. He writes, in 1 Corinthians 9:19, “Though I am free and belong to no man, I make myself a slave to everyone to win as many as possible.”
What advice does Paul have for those of us who want to follow Jesus? Here are just a few examples of what Paul says to believers.
“…I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.” Ephesians 4:1-3
“Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves…Do everything without complaining or arguing so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe as you hold out the word of life…” Philippians 2:3, 14-16
“Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory. Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry…Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.” Colossians 3:2-5, 12
Paul is far more interested in who we are, in what motivates us, than in what we do. If our attitude is humble and gentle, if our motivation is not clouded by selfish desires, and if our minds are firmly set on Jesus Christ, then we will choose to serve Jesus well, even if it is inconvenient.
That is encouraging to me. Many days I pray something like, “Lord, show me what you want me to do today,” but maybe that’s the wrong focus. Perhaps a better prayer would be, “Jesus, help me to keep my mind set upon you, and help me to accomplish my to-do list with humility, selflessness, gentleness and kindness today. And, if there is anything on my agenda that you would like to replace with a less convenient item, go for it.”
Something tells me that the more my mind and my motives are in the right place, the less I will feel that things are inconvenient. I imagine that’s how Abraham, Joseph, Moses, and the rest of them so successfully served God. Their minds and motives were right first, and their behavior followed.
Do you struggle with inconvenience? Any advice?