Convenient Christianity

To say that things are not like they used to be is an understatement. Not only is life on a ‘rapid roll’, but many of the conveniences that enhanced the quality of life at one time are quickly being replaced with unprecedented momentum. Be it cell phone, computer or any other aspect of consumer-related invention, that which generates obsession and excitement quickly becomes obsolete.

I am convinced that inventors are focused on catering to man’s desire for fashion and convenience with hardly any consideration given to economic practicality. As a result, both saint and sinner are often financially strapped because of their obsession to ‘keep up with the Joneses’ and impress those around them.

Endeavouring to live above our means has become quite a common practice in today’s society.

With the credit card as the major tool for spending money that we do not have, for commodities that we do not need, our lust is having a field-day. It is this inherent desire to pamper ourselves with every available luxury that is capitalized upon by the commercial market. The “No Money Down”, “Don’t Pay ’Til Later” schemes are specially designed to put the consumer into debt while giving us the chance to satisfy our desire for instant gratification.

The truth is that we veil our indebtedness with a façade of prosperity, when in reality the bank owns it all. Long-term interest plans are designed to make the creditor wealthier and the impractical consumer poorer.

The bottom line is that our unrestrained submission to the changing trends of today’s society can stagnate the development of our value for long-term commitments and responsibilities. I sometimes wonder if life itself, even for the child of God, has become a fad with an almost total absence of lasting values.

Developing Values

For many years I have been proud of my ability to retain personal possessions for lengthy periods of time. Without hesitation, friends and family would confirm that whether it be the cars I have owned, my clothes, electronic equipment, or even an insignificant item such as an artist’s paintbrush, the things I have possessed seem to last forever.

The fact is that I give credit to the Lord for the lasting sense of value I have developed as a result of this seemingly inconsequential habit. It is similar to the testimony of God’s preservation of Israel’s clothes and shoes as they journeyed through the wilderness. (Deut. 29:5).

The concept of retaining personal possessions for lengthy periods is not just idle chatter but goes back to the days of my childhood when durability was a paramount concern among consumers. The decision to purchase quality products in those days weighed heavily on the strength of a product to last a long time. Of course, this concept was not only applied to inanimate items utilized in daily life, but also influenced the more sensitive areas.

Marriage, friendship, faithfulness and Christian living were not commonly short-lived but were esteemed to be lifelong commitments. I believe that practice makes permanent, meaning that the things we do on a daily basis will eventually influence character development. While some practices will result in fickleness and economic frustration, other positive actions will produce stability and contentment.

Proper judgment must overpower trends and the child of God should not thoughtlessly jump on society’s ever-changing bandwagons as a means of satisfying the excessive demand for convenience.

Losing Spiritual Values

Although many modern conveniences make it easier for us to exist in our present society, the habit of indulging ourselves in excessive luxury and conveniences can develop the wrong attitude towards spiritual commitments. There are aspects relating to our walk with God that cannot be avoided or ignored. There are no shortcuts to serving God and the price of discipleship demands involvement, sacrifice and commitment.

Jesus said, “If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.” (Matt. 16:24). To summarize all of this, one could safely say that God never intended for His children to serve Him at their convenience, but rather according to the dictates of His word.

True discipleship demands that Christians seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness. (Mt. 6:33). Giving priority to God and His work will readjust our entire lifestyle, and assist us in developing the mind of Christ.

Paul exhorted the church at Philippi to take on the mind, or attitude, of our Lord Jesus who put aside personal ambition and His own convenience in order to fulfill the commandments of His Father. While self-esteem and self-development is promoted as an absolute necessity in today’s society, the Apostle described our Lord Jesus as emptying Himself of His reputation and taking on the form of a servant. “And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.” (Phil. 2:5-8).

In order for the church to develop the mind of Christ, discipleship must be pursued. Denial of self, taking up of the cross and following the Lord must be a continuous, lifelong commitment that culminates in total surrender to God. The scripture puts it like this: “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God…” (Rom. 12:2). Consider the fact that a “sacrifice” offered to God really has no choice. If we are to be living sacrifices, then service to God will become a priority and there will be little room given to personal convenience. A proper comprehension of this concept will allow us to better understand the words of Jesus when He stated that, “He that loveth father or mother…son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. And he that taketh not his cross, and followeth after me is not worthy of me. He that findeth his life shall lose it: and he that loseth his life for my sake shall find it.” (Mt. 10:37-39).

Serving God is not a part-time activity, but rather full-time living. The Christian belongs to Christ and should steadfastly pursue this path of total commitment.

Tragically, true discipleship, with its demand for total surrender, is not pleasantly accepted in today’s church world. The spirit of placing convenience above commitment has undeniably permeated the work of God. Many churches have deteriorated into becoming social clubs with personal pleasure and entertainment as their main focus. In reality, the work of God has become very worldly and no longer provides that controlled environment suitable for the development of overcomers.

Never before in my ministry have I seen such a strong spirit of backsliding and fickleness within the church. Absenteeism, coupled with rebellion and withdrawal are predominant, and only a few are willing to go the extra mile in their Christian service.

As I see it, the purpose of the church is obstructed when God’s people bring the attitudes of society into it. Should God and His work be treated as a cafeteria line or a fast-food joint that promotes a ‘Have It Your Way’ concept? Scripture would support me with a positive No! We cannot serve God at our convenience or resort to our own methods. While the spirit of the age promotes an independent ‘no one tells me what to do’ attitude, the Spirit of Christ promotes an unquestionable obedience to the will of God.

Jesus said, “For I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me.” (Jn. 6:38).

The Will of God

Understanding and fulfilling the will of God in our own lives is extremely important, and therefore should not be treated lightly.

There was a time when the church would not pursue a simple revival meeting without first enquiring from the Lord. In those days the will of God was very important. But times have changed and the modern-day church plans its programs to suit its convenience and then expects God to fit in. There is the grave misconception that as long as an activity is religious it is God’s will.

In Matthew 7:21-23, Jesus showed that the will of God was much more than religious worship, preaching and doing good works.

One would imagine that to prophesy in the Lord’s name, cast demons out and be actively engaged in charitable works surely represented the will of God, but scripture shows this may not necessarily be true.

In the judgment, many sincere Christians will be branded as workers of iniquity because their religious efforts were the result of their own will rather than God’s.

Matthew continued by showing that the will of God was simple obedience to the words spoken by the Lord. Obedience brought stability to withstand the storms of life and granted entrance into God’s kingdom. (vs. 24-27).

There are occasions when God may make specific demands for special reasons, but in general, the will of God involves obedience to God’s word. There are many scriptural instructions to obey such as loving your enemies, praying without ceasing, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, having fervent charity and many others.

Obedience to these scriptural principles is fulfilling God’s general will in our lives, and at the same time gives us the opportunity to practice and develop Christ-like characteristics. Self-preservation will no longer hold priority and God will not be served at our convenience.

Although many of God’s children would desire a prestigious activity to perform as God’s will, the genuine will of God may be the fulfillment of the simple duties in one’s local church.

God’s will is not intended to satisfy one’s religious cravings or magnify one’s self-righteous ego. It is more so designed to subdue the carnal human nature and establish true discipleship.

The Apostle Paul declared, “I die daily.” (1 Cor. 15:31). In 2 Corinthians 4:8-12, he listed many negative circumstances in his life and then concluded by saying that, “So then death worketh in us, but life in you.”

In conclusion, let us examine ourselves and make the necessary adjustments, remembering that our priorities are indicative of the validity of our conversion.

May we become living sacrifices, holy and acceptable unto God, and be not conformed to this world, but be transformed in our way of thinking that we may experience what is the “good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.” (Rom. 12:2-3). We should not serve God only at our convenience.