The Christian life is all about convenience.
The world and the ruler of this world want you to believe this lie. Convenience — the worldly pursuit of ease — has become the Enemy’s battle cry (or, better yet, whisper) in the war for our modern souls. Satan’s strategy has morphed from direct opposition to subtle enticement.
In most American churches, the battle is being fought with wireless routers, HDMI cables, standing desks, and lumbar supports rather than the lashes, stones, rods, and chains of old (2 Corinthians 11:23–25). Today, most of us in the West calculate our significance by our Facebook friend count, newest technology, iPhone notifications, and 401k. The Enemy has recruited our own hearts to fight against us.
A Dangerous Security Blanket
Perhaps our biggest problem stares back at us every time we look into the dark mirrors of our handheld devices. But our contemporary problem has never been convenience — just as the problem in Eden was never the fruit. From Sinai’s stone tablets to today’s tablet computers, convenience has been vital to human advancement and even the spread of God’s kingdom. Even now, I sit conveniently in front of a computer — the modern convenience of our time — while you are scrolling through these digital words conveniently on a digital screen.
“When our hearts fall in love with convenience, the call of Jesus to shoulder a cross will feel foreign.”
The problem, then, lies not with convenience, but with what our hearts make of it. The dark appeal of temptation is to twist good things into idols. Convenience steps in front of God and steals his worship. The world’s empty promises silently hijack our affections. We let cheap knockoffs of fulfillment obscure the true beauty of our nail-torn Savior.
When our hearts fall for the idol of convenience, the call of Jesus to follow him in shouldering a cross feels foreign. The one who saves us quietly mutates into a threat to our counterfeit sanctuaries of advantage. When our security is the warm comfort of secular convenience, we will keep hitting the snooze button on Jesus’s alarming command to take up our cross.
Christ and the Convenient Kingdom
Jesus, however, shows us how to confront this danger. Worn down over forty days with hunger, thirst, and isolation, Jesus meets the Enemy in the barren wilderness. Twisting the good things of God into opportunities for disobedience, Satan entices the exhausted Messiah with the idol of convenience:
If you are the son of God, ease your hunger by commanding these stones to become bread (Luke 4:3).
If you want a kingdom, let me give it to you. All you have to do is worship me and my world is yours (Luke 4:5–7).
If you are the Son of God, prove it. Now. On your own terms. The coming kingdom will arrive much easier than what your Father has planned. Why go through the hardships that stand before you? Just throw yourself from the top of the temple and let the world watch your Father protect you (Luke 4:9–11).
New page, same playbook. But Jesus did not give in to the lie of convenience. Instead, he clung to God’s promise to install a better kingdom. Jesus was there to do his Father’s will (Luke 4:4, 8, 12), not Satan’s (Luke 4:1–13), and not even his own (Matthew 26:36–46). He came “to give his life as a ransom for many” (Mark 10:45), and nothing — not even the convenience of earthly provision, fame, or an undeniable, self-determined supernatural ministry — could keep the Son from his mission.
No Complacent Christians
And so it should be for followers of Jesus. We don’t save ourselves; he has already done that much better than we ever could. Instead, we become like what we worship. We are transformed into Christ’s likeness (Romans 8:29; 2 Corinthians 3:18). This is why Scripture uses active verbs to describe the Christian life. “Draw near, persevere, fight, strive, walk, encourage, stand firm, hold fast, obey, work, put to death, adorn, serve, labor” — the Spirit uses these words to propel the church from concept to reality.
“Jesus didn’t leave the eternal convenience of heaven for the fleeting conveniences of this world.”
These commands are intended to help us become Christlike in our walk, and to bring us to the fulfillment of God’s mission. New Testament disciples are soldiers (Philippians 2:25; 2 Timothy 2:3–4; Philemon 1:2), athletes (2 Timothy 2:5; Hebrews 12:1–2), and crucified new creations (Galatians 2:20; 2 Corinthians 5:17). We run (Hebrews 12:1), fight (2 Timothy 4:7), and take up arms (Ephesians 6:10–18) so that we finish well and accomplish God’s purposes while we live.
Yet the temptation of convenience remains. Fighting the good fight is a lot harder than streaming Season 3 of Parks and Rec. Again. When following comfort trumps following Jesus, it is time to examine what we are worshiping. Just as with his disciples, Christ calls us to stop collecting taxes and mending our fishing nets to follow him. The question before us every day is, Will we follow him like the disciples (Matthew 4:18–22) or return to our conveniences like the rich young ruler (Mark 10:17–27)?
Saved from a Comfortable Death
Don’t settle for anything that keeps you from Jesus. Instead, take up your cross and follow him, wherever that may lead. Remember, Jesus didn’t leave the eternal convenience of heaven for the fleeting conveniences of this world. He came to destroy our idols so that we might have him forever.
Following Christ leads to something better than the world’s temporary comforts; it leads to a true and better rest. We know the end. The hard road leads to God himself. Your Savior guarantees an eternal reward that outshines all the false conveniences of the world.