Don’t we modern Americans just love convenience? There seems to be a mad rush to fill our homes with things that contribute to it. With the possible exception of our pets, and in some cases, our kids, everything in our houses seems to be getting smarter and smarter. Everything nowadays seems designed to make every task in life more effortless these days. Our appliances come with their own pre-loaded, factory-installed academic degree in “Workreductionology”. Did you know that refrigerators are volunteering to take over monitoring our leftovers’ status now? Thermostats automatically know when we need our comfort level adjusted and raise or lower the temperature accordingly. Doorbells not only announce and welcome approved visitors, they also watch the porch to keep thieves from snatching our Amazon boxes.
But Wait, There’s More!
And lest we think that talking appliances and programmable light bulbs might not signal quite enough electronic smartness and digital convenience to satisfy us, we have more. There’s a little electronic box we can place on a bookshelf with a polite little gal living in it who apparently just loves to help out with stuff. She can openly converse with the refrigerator and even negotiate on our behalf with the light bulbs, thermostats, and door bells. She will also remind us of our appointments, play our favorite songs whenever we want to hear them, tell us what time the game starts and what beverages go best with fried pork rinds. She’ll also ride along in our car and talk to any of her cousins who happen to live in our dashboards. To say the least, life for millions of folks in America is getting more and more convenient–maybe even a little too convenient.
Ease and convenience will always be appealing because they tend to free up personal time. Unfortunately, that doesn’t mean that our choices about what to do with that newly discovered free time will automatically reflect things that are beneficial to us or those around us. Human beings throughout history, including those God claims as His own, have proven again and again that the first steps taken toward embracing the behaviors and attitudes that would result in devastation on an individual, spiritual, cultural, and national level began first with embracing ease and comfort
A Significant Association ~
For instance, the Book of Ezekiel includes one of many reports confirming that pattern. Judah’s moral depravity led Ezekiel to declare that its people were like sisters of Sodom. He associated their moral corruption at that time with their love of idleness and ease. The prophet quotes God’s words like this:
Look, this was the iniquity of your sister Sodom: She and her daughter had pride, fullness of food, and abundance of idleness; neither did she strengthen the hand of the poor and needy. And they were haughty and committed abomination before Me; therefore I took them away as I saw fit. (Ezekiel 16:49–50 NKJV)
We’re not trying to advocate for more difficult and challenging lifestyles, but comfort and ease can have a downside that we must acknowledge. We can easily be turned into evangelists promoting their qualities. We want the ease and convenience we enjoy in our kitchen to be exported to the family room, and then the bedroom, and eventually to all the other rooms in our house. Then we begin to expect it in our workplace and our cars, and then in the restaurants and other places of entertainment we frequent. And it doesn’t stop there. We want it in our churches as well. As our addiction to comfort and ease spreads, so does its dangerous potential for negative side effects. Our demand for comfort and convenience in our public praise and worship services can infect and distort the very concept of what it means to follow Jesus Christ and to serve Him.
Impotent Nouns or Powerful Verbs ~
Because we have a fallen, naturally rebellious, sin-approving nature, ease and convenience inexorably lead to self-indulgence in areas that God condemns. When opposition arises because of a profession of faith in Jesus Christ, convenience addicts may find themselves in a quandary. The array of electronic gadgetry and other time and labor saving devices we’ve all grown used to can ease us (literally) into self-indulgent lifestyles that are hard to give up. We can be — and have been — unconsciously led to treat the concept of “faith” as more of a noun than the verb it was intended to be . . . that faith in Christ is more a description of something we have than something we do.
Of course, there are inexpressible benefits that are simply given to us as children of God through personal faith in Jesus’ atoning sacrifice. His love and His gracious forgiveness, for instance, aren’t for sale and can’t be earned with human merit. But we mustn’t conclude that the awful cost of our redemption was paid just so we could kick back and take it easy until He calls us home.
No Promise of Comfort and Ease ~
Every follower of Jesus is individually called to Him, and cleansed by Him, but then they are also individually equipped and sent out by Him to continue the work He began. Carrying out that mission doesn’t presuppose a life of relaxation, convenience, and self-indulgence. Thankfully, good times do come, but they aren’t guaranteed, nor are they continuous. Jesus made that clear when He repeatedly described the kinds of things His followers would face. Our hedonistic culture has led us to disregard warnings from Him like this:
Remember the word that I said to you, ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you. If they kept My word, they will keep yours also. But all these things they will do to you for My name’s sake, because they do not know Him who sent Me. (John 15:20–21 NKJV)
From a global perspective, Christians are far and away the most persecuted group in the world. Christians in other parts of the world are all too familiar with opposition that goes far beyond the loss of a few conveniences. In some places faith in Christ can go beyond the loss of freedom and privileges. It can even include torture and death, yet believers courageously live out their faith anyway. For them, faith is not just a description of something they have. It’s a description of what they do, no matter what it costs.
A Commission not to Be Ignored ~
The religious liberties ensured by our Constitution have allowed us to enjoy lives of convenience and ease unknown in most of the world, but those guarantees are being challenged with increasing frequency and intensity. Jesus’ entire ministry was an exercise in counter-cultural attitudes and behavior, but in our increasingly divisive, confrontational, and hedonistic culture, mainstream Christianity seems to have forgotten that. We’ve largely ignored an affirmation that Jesus said so clearly to the Father:
As You sent Me into the world, I also have sent them into the world. And for their sakes I sanctify Myself, that they also may be sanctified by the truth. (John 17:18–19 NKJV)
And to the disciples later:
So Jesus said to them again, “Peace to you! As the Father has sent Me, I also send you.” (John 20:21 NKJV)
Those who have confessed their sins and expressed saving faith in Jesus Christ have been given gifts that the composite genius of all our supercomputers can’t begin to touch, but that faith is not just a noun describing something we have. It’s a verb describing a life to be lived in direct opposition to the forces constantly pulling us away from it. Eventually, every one of us will be called away from every luxury we have and will face the One who sent us to do His work. And just as a reminder . . . , “Alexa” and her friends won’t be around to help out at that point.
“TWEETABLES” ~ Click to tweet and share from the pull quotes below. Each one links directly back to this article through Twitter . . .
- “Faith in Christ can go beyond the loss of freedom and privileges. It can even include torture and death, yet believers courageously live out their faith anyway. For them, faith is s a description of what they do, no matter what it costs.” @GallaghersPen (Click here to Tweet)
- “Jesus’ entire ministry was an exercise in counter-cultural attitudes and behavior, but in our increasingly divisive, confrontational, and hedonistic culture, mainstream Christianity seems to have forgotten that.” @GallaghersPen (Click here to Tweet)
- “Faith (in Christ) is not just a noun describing something we have. It’s a verb describing a life to be lived in direct opposition to the forces constantly pulling us away from it.” @GallaghersPen (Click here to Tweet)
- “Eventually, every one of us will be called away from every luxury we have and will face the One who sent us to do His work. And just as a reminder . . . , “Alexa” and her friends won’t be around to help out at that point.” @GallaghersPen (Click here to Tweet)
Check out Ron’s book, “Right Side Up Thinking in an Upside Down World ~ Looking at the World through the Lens of Biblical Truth”
The Kindle e-version is just $1.99. No Kindle device is needed. E-book readers are included on most computers, tablets, and smartphones. If you don’t have one, the free Kindle app can be easily downloaded directly from the Amazon site on almost any device.
Click here for a “Look Inside” preview at Amazon.
© 2021 Gallagher’s Pen, Ronald L. Gallagher, Ed.S. All rights reserved.