Humans are creatures of habit. When we attain a habit or routine it’s very hard to break that cycle of behavior. One of my habits is driving my car until my gas light begins blinking. Like many others, I have a grasp on just how long the car will go once that light comes on. Coupled with that habit is another habit of driving until I reach a Kroger gas station. Given the amount of miles I drive and the age of my car, my trip to the gas station is once a week and sometimes twice, but never more than that. While at the gas station, I don’t spend more than five to ten minutes there. I go in, get what I need, leave my money and leave. Interestingly enough, I don’t enter the Kroger to shop unless it’s an absolute emergency. I will pass it to go to another store.
No matter how much it has to offer, I only go there for the gas and only go once or twice a week.
While teaching bible study at our new church plant, I started reflecting on the state of American Christianity as it is reflected in current events as well as other observations. We were looking at the passage of scripture in Hebrews 12 where it talks about laying aside every weight and sin that easily gets us distracted. In the original context of the verse, the weight that is spoken of deals with pride and conceit. Many times pride causes us to put up walls of defense. The walls cause us to find places of familiarity, comfortability and complacency. The walls don’t only effect how we interact with people, but how we interact with our faith. With pride comes the association of a level of arrogance and individualism. It blocks us from being able to see others and what may help or bless them over what makes us comfortable.
In my reflection I began to realize how American Christianity has become convenient. Not just in a sense of availability, but like the convenience store. We only engage it when it’s absolutely necessary, our customary weekly trip or a time of crisis. Then when we do engage it, it’s only for a short period of time and we usually don’t get anything of substance from it. We don’t look to allow the true challenge of it to work in our lives. And to end this quick transaction we throw money in the collection plate to justify our lack of relationship.
I quote a scripture that continually challenges me out of Amos 6, “Woe unto those that are at ease in Zion...” If we are to truly follow the one we profess, he himself declares that if anyone comes after him they must first deny themselves, take up their cross and follow him. None of these three actions are easy or convenient. We have not been called to ease and comfort, but to challenge, growth, process and progress. Jesus, more than being the savior of the world, was a religious revolutionary of his time. When being questioned by the religious leaders of the day, he said that the greatest commandments were to love God with all your heart, mind and soul and to love your neighbor as yourself. If your relationship with God does not challenge you to love God more deeply, love and care for others, then there is a breakdown in the relationship or it truly is only a relationship built out of convenience. It is important to note that true love for someone is shown by supplying or giving what they need, not giving what you think they need. When there is a cry for help or change, it is not love to overlook they cry because it cause discomfort to our norm.
Allow me to challenge you, check your relationship. Is it one of convenience or not? Take a real inventory to see are there levels of pride that are weighing you down from being all the God has called you to be. Is the comfort and complacency of the familiar pigeonholing you to where you are? No matter how old you are or what where you might be in life, there is always more for you to do concerning God and others. Don’t just run in when you’re out of gas and want a quick snack. Allow for the nourishment and filling of a holistic relationship to occur.
Do good, do no harm and stay in love with the divine.
Rev. E. Chip Owens is a graduate of the Gammon Theological Seminary on the Historic Campus of the Interdenominational Theological Center. He has served as a Senior Pastor in the Covington Area. He is a well sought after preacher and Author that has had the pleasure of sharing the gospel nationwide.