Faith is inconvenient. It requires us to walk by faith and not by sight. (2 Corinthians 5:7) It tells us we can walk in peace in the midst of the storm. (John 14:18) It tells us that we are equipped for every good work in Christ Jesus. (2 Timothy 3:17) It beckons us to take ahold of that for which Christ Jesus has taken hold of us. (Philippians 3:12) If your faith is not inconvenient, you would do well to be concerned. There was nothing convenient about Jesus humbling Himself to become human, born in obscurity, reviled and hated, mocked, betrayed and brutally crucified.
I was listening to an audio of a sermon that I linked to through another blog where the pastor made the distinction between Jesus as Saviour and Jesus as Lord. We want the benefits of Jesus as Saviour but not necessarily the inconvenience of Jesus as Lord. If Jesus is Lord of my life, then that means that He is in control, of everything. And Jesus is not as concerned about comfort and prosperity as He is about surrender and obedience. The Gospel is inconvenient and we preach a false Gospel when we preach Jesus as Saviour only and not Jesus as Saviour and Lord. Yes, He is our Saviour but He needs to also be our Lord. “If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord.” (Romans 10:9) The Lordship of Jesus Christ will lead you to seemingly inconvenient places because God does not operate according to human understanding. That is why He chose a 99 year old woman to birth a nation, and an unwed teenage virgin to carry the Messiah. It is why the Bible is full of the most unlikely heroes and it is exactly why you and I can become the heroes of our own heavenly story. Because even though it is inconvenient for God to do so, He chooses you and He chooses me.
It is inconvenient for me to be in northern Manitoba. I do not like the cold. On my own, I do not have a heart for the north. I am far away, geographically and financially, from family and friends who struggle with the purpose of our being parted. The spiritual climate in this northern town feels bereft. There have been no large, sweeping moves of God, no revival fires reigning down, no anointed preachers from down south compelled to come and preach at open air meetings. Nothing to demonstrate to me, or anyone else, why and for what purpose God would call me here. Yet without a doubt in my heart, we have been called here. This frozen desert place is a training ground; for what I do not know but I want to run in such a way as to get the prize. (1 Corinthians 9:24) And the temptation is always to compromise to convenience. When we first arrived, we joined a few other believers who were meeting in a house, worshipping and crying out to God, and we felt fed. When that season ended, we asked God to lead us to where He would have us go. And we felt led to a little church, just down the road from the larger church with all the programming, a denomination we are comfortable with and a group of our friends. In those early days when doors for ministry opened at the little church, it seemed obvious why God would call us there; how convenient and sensible that we could offer our time and talents to help them grow. But now, a year and a half later, with those ministry opportunities faded or removed, and the ugly, messy side of church politics persistently preaching louder than the Gospel, it is becoming very inconvenient to stay. And I long for the days when I walked into a service and felt the sweet presence of the Holy Spirit. This past summer, when I was on holiday back in southern Ontario, I walked into an old familiar service and the tangible presence of God made me weep. Truly I did not appreciate the spiritual ease of those days. And yet I can honestly say that I have never grown so much spiritually as I have in these last four years up north. In this desert place, I have become aware of how much I need Jesus to be Lord every day, just to survive. If it had not been inconvenient, I would not have discovered how Jesus can talk directly to me, One-on-one. So I am grappling with whether to stay where we are or to go up the road. There are so many practical, sensible reasons to go but maybe it is better to stay in an inconvenient place because there I have no choice but to trust Jesus and to study hard and learn what He is teaching me, so that I can pass the test and finish the race. That way, when He opens other doors, the siren call of ease will not displace His Lordship and cause me to shrink back and be destroyed. (Hebrew 10:38, 39)