Convenience or Conviction
For the second week in a row I have had the privilege of listening to a pastor preach a sermon that has had an impact on my life. This week we were in Portage la Prairie attending Portage Evangelical Church and the Lord used pastor Glen Loewen to share a word that stirred my heart. For those who do not know pastor Glen he is a man with a “burning” heart and he passionately calls believers to surrender and obedience to Christ. When you listen to pastor Glen you will be stirred by his zeal for the Lord. I believe that he is a prophetic voice for those who dare to listen! (You can listen to his sermon online here)
I want to highlight two things in particular that caught my attention: The first being the idea of convenience. The text today was found in Genesis and centered on the story of Abram [Abraham] and his nephew Lot. In Genesis chapter 13 Abram & Lot were at a crossroads and they had to part company because they had become too big to remain together. In verse 10 Lot looked around and saw the rich lands in the Jordan plains and decided that this was the best place to live. However this choice led Lot close to the evil influences of the people in that area and eventually we know the disastrous results of his decision. Abram however chose to trust God and allow Him to bless not based on convenience, practicality or greed.
Many times we allow a western mindset to influence our life and faith. Among other things this mindset encourages us to live our lives with convenience in mind. We make decisions such as where we will live, what job we will take and even what church we will attend based solely on the “convenient” outcome. For example we will live near a school, take the higher paying job and worship in a church where we like the music because that may be the convenient choice that makes the most sense or has the most appeal. However that is not necessarily the way in which God desires for us to live our lives. The word of God is full of examples of men & women who obeyed a call that was often inconvenient and challenging to say the least (check out Hebrews 11 – the “faith” chapter).
I was challenged today to examine my life. We are currently making some major decisions and I do not want to make them based on what sounds good or what is most convenient. I do not want to live my life that way! I believe that I feel this way because of the second thing that I want to emphasis and that is conviction. The dictionary defines conviction as “a fixed or firm belief”. I have some “deep” convictions in my life. One of those convictions is that Jesus Christ was and is God and that He came to earth as a man and provided a way for my salvation. This conviction lies at the very core of who I am and have become. It is the reason for why I live and breathe. If it was not for this salvation I do not believe that I would have survived life to this point! Another conviction that I have is that Christ wants to be the Lord of my life. He demands my complete surrender to His will. Because of these two convictions I cannot chose to live my life based on how comfortable I am or how safe I feel!
In closing I want to share a poem that captures the convictions of William McChesney, missionary Africa Congo. This poem was found in his home after he was martyred for his faith:
I want my breakfast served at eight
With ham and eggs upon the plate
A well-broiled steak I’ll eat at one
And dine again when day is done.
I want an ultramodern home
And in each room a telephone;
Soft carpets, too, upon the floors
And pretty drapes to grace the doors.
A cozy place of lovely things,
Like easy chairs with inner springs,
And then, I’ll get a nice T.V.
– Of course, I’m careful what I see.
I want my wardrobe, too, to be
Of neatest, finest quality,
With latest style in suit and vest
Why should not Christians have the best?
But then the Master I can hear
In no uncertain voice, so clear:
“I bid you come and follow Me,
The lowly Man of Galilee.”
“Birds of the air have made their nest
And foxes in their holes find rest,
But I can offer you no bed;
No place have I to lay my head.”
In shame I hung my head and cried,
How could I spurn the Crucified?
Could I forget the way He went,
The sleepless nights in prayer He spent?
For forty days without a bite,
Alone He fasted day and night;
Despised, rejected – on He went,
and did not stop till veil He rent!
A man of sorrows and of grief
No earthly friend to bring relief;
“Smitten of God,” the prophet said
Mocked, beaten, bruised, His blood ran red.
If He be God, and died for me,
No sacrifice too great can be
For me; a mortal man, to make;
I’ll do it all for Jesus’ sake.
Yes, I will tread the path He trod,
No other way will please my God,
So, henceforth, this my choice shall be,
My choice for all eternity.