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Advent Devotion: Convenient, Comfortable Christianity? Hmmm…

William-Adolphe Bouguereau (1825-1905) - The F...

William-Adolphe Bouguereau (1825-1905) – The Flagellation of Our Lord Jesus Christ (1880) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Devotional Thought of the Day:

 But when the Son of man comes, will he find any faith on earth?  Luke 18:8b (NJB)

 57 As they travelled along they met a man on the road who said to him, ‘I will follow you wherever you go.’ 58  Jesus answered, ‘Foxes have holes and the birds of the air have nests, but the Son of man has nowhere to lay his head.’ 59  Another to whom he said, ‘Follow me,’ replied, ‘Let me go and bury my father first.’ 60  But he answered, ‘Leave the dead to bury their dead; your duty is to go and spread the news of the kingdom of God.’ 61  Another said, ‘I will follow you, sir, but first let me go and say good-bye to my people at home.’ 62  Jesus said to him, ‘Once the hand is laid on the plough, no one who looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.’Luke 9:57-62 (NJB)

650 When will you realise that your only possible way is to seek sanctity seriously. Make up your mind—don’t be offended—to take God seriously. That levity of yours, if you do not fight against it, could end up by becoming a sad and blasphemous mockery.  (1)

Yesterday we began Advent, that time of year where we build expectation of Christ’s return, as we consider life prior to the Incarnation.

It is hard to look back, without considering the voices of the prophets, and their call on the people of God to take their relationship with God seriously.  Their reminders that we have a relationship with God who has made it possible, and that we should neglect that relationship.

Yet too often we do.

Advent seeks to shake us from that – to prepare us for Christ’s coming – not just the 6 lbs 8 oz Baby Lord Jesus, lieing in a smelly feeding trough, but the returning Lord who gave it all, for us.

It’s a startling image in this day where peopel are put out if they are asked to pay more in taxes, or meet the expecations others place on their time and their lives.  We want to be served instantly, we want it our way, we want things to be convenient, and comfortable, with no sacrifice and no cost.

We hear that salvation is free, that God paid all the cost for our sins, with Christ dieing on the cross, and we rejoice.  We focus on that part of the message of God.  We love it, rejoice in it, willing share that part with others.

But we don’t want the inconvenience of being in a relationship with God.  It might be uncomfortable, He might ask us to sacrifice something, to downscale our lives in order to help others. He might ask us to spend time with Him, and with those people at church that aren’t like us.  He may ask some of us even to suffer for the faith, and how many of us are really willing to do that?

SO the prophetic question is asked – do you trust God?  Are you willing to trust Him, even if it seems to mean some personal cost?  What if it means giving up a personal dream, or embracing discomfort?  What if it means being alienated from family?  What if it means our friends turn their back on us, because we won’t be there when they want us to be, because of our commitments to serve others, especially those others they might consider “less deserving”?  Will you trust God, when it costs you a little of what it cost Jesus, the shame He embraced on the cross? Are you willing to trust Him enough that you would embrace suffering, if it meant one more person would know Christ?

Remember why – it was for the joy awaiting Him, the joy of sharing His glory with you!  The joy of bringing you into the glory and love that is shared between this Triune God we worship.

Is your trust in Him, your love for Him enough to embrace a inconvenient, uncomfortable messy way of life?

Look beyond the manger, and the shining stars and “cute” depictions of the birth of Christ.  Look at the rejections He endured, Look at the cross He bore, and the investment He’s made, promising you the Holy Spirit, the Comforter. KNow His faithfulness, His trustworthiness, His love and mercy….

and embrace a life of faith and trust…. knowing that no other life is worth living.

Escriva, Josemaria (2011-01-31). Furrow (Kindle Locations 2728-2731). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.

Convenient Christianity

Devotional/Discussion thought of the Day:

 Another said, ‘I will follow you, sir, but first let me go and say good-bye to my people at home.’ 62 Jesus said to him, ‘Once the hand is laid on the plough, no one who looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.’ “
Luke 9:61-62 (NJB)

As a pastor, I struggle a lot with those who have the attitude told in this passage.  Who say, “Pastor my faith means everything, but I am going to have to miss church (or Bible Study, or even their own devotional prayer time) because I must go and …(insert favorite hobby, activity, vacation, etc)
Of course, if I am honest, I am not much better, for I will allow things to crash my personal time with God, and there are days… if I didn’t have to go to church, I wouldn’t.  Partially because I wonder if what I do is effective enough, or whether it is worth the sacrifice that it costs – sacrifices to me, to my wife and son, to my parents and other relatives.
And then I come across this passage, and others like it, and I feel guilt, or sometimes I want to use this passage and the hundreds like it to provoke guilt in those whose commitment is divided, whose life shows the brokenness that comes from not spending it with God.

It’s not how it works though – for if we only do religious things because we have to, because we have an obligation to, because if we don’t, we feel guilty, then we’ve missed the point.

Religion isn’t about obligations, Christianity isn’t about obeying the commandments for the commandments sake,

It’s about walking (following is a word that denotes going on the same journey with the one we follow) with Christ – sharing our lives even as He has shared His life with us.

The reason my Christianity tends to be “convenient”, the reason Conventient Christianity is the fastest spreading form of it in our area… is because we don’t grasp the treasure of those simple words, “The Lord is with you”.

Lord, help us to know, to intimately get this truth, help us to encourage others to grasp it as well.  Help us to follow – and to realize nothing is as precious as our time spent with You and yours…

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