Especially in the TV area. We’ve never had cable or satellite television at my house. When I was really young, we just plain couldn’t afford it. The cable guy would come around once every few months and offer us free cable for one month followed by some sort of contract. My parents would always reply that, no, we weren’t interested and we didn’t want a subscription, so we shouldn’t get a month free. But then, time and time again, the cable guy would—out of the goodness of his heart—give us the free month anyway, despite my parents’ ardent protests. We would then proceed to buy boxes of VHSes in order to record every possible episode of My Little Pony. These would tide us over until the next time the kind-hearted cable guy made his rounds.
Nowadays, however, we don’t have cable TV and there is no nice cable guy to bring it to us for free. As a result, we get a grand total of nine channels: 3 local news and programming, 2 public access, 1 off-brand version of TLC, the science channel, and at least two infomercial channels. For a brief stint we even got the NASA channel, but unfortunately that has been reduced to static. We did get to watch the International Space Station Thanksgiving broadcast, though, and it made me really thankful for non-reconstituted turkey. So I guess that’s good.
I love my sisters a lot, but sometimes they do things I don’t really understand. Like sit around watching infomercials. And not once, not twice, but multiple times through the same ones. As in, they now are able to quote certain ones or finish the person’s sentences for them. It’s bizarre, really. And maybe even a little bit wrong. But I guess there isn’t much else to do in Kansas. Regardless, though, I still find it really strange. But I should probably change subjects, lest I get into further trouble with my sisters. You both know I love you, right?
Okay, so what I really want to talk to you about tonight is convenience. We live in a culture that is so wrapped up in its own comfort, that it can be a bit comical at times. Infomercials are one example of this. People who order the “Butt Buster 3000” are concerned about convenience. They don’t want to get off their butt and go to the gym, so they have a “Butt Buster” delivered to their home to make it more convenient for them. And they don’t even have to get off the couch to order it. For three easy payments of $29.99, they can get a better butt without even leaving their living room.
Or take drive-throughs as another example. You can sit in your car and get warm, hot food handed right to you. You don’t have to cook; you don’t even have to stand up. Awesome, right? And if you pay with a credit or debit card, you don’t have to count out the change or do the math. It’s all conveniently done for you with one effortless swipe. This doesn’t just go for food, either. Right here in Stillwater, Oklahoma, you can get a fountain drink or a six-pack (of Gatorade, of course! Haha) without getting out of your car. Courtesy of The Barn, “The best thing to happen to beer since ice.” A drive-through liquor store. Only in Oklahoma.
This “convenience cult” isn’t limited to the USA. In fact, when I was in Europe, I witnessed—and laughed hysterically at—the silliest example of it I’d ever seen: Segway city tours. That’s right; for a fee of 30ish Euros, you can cruise around the sites of Prague, Paris, and Rome for hours under the direction of your own personal tour guide. Caesar and Stalin would both roll over in their graves, I’m sure.
I’m sorry that this blog seems a bit cynical; I really didn’t intend for it to be. The harshness of this post is actually not directed at you. Rather, I am aiming it at myself. Yes, the culture of convenience surrounds me, and I am one of its biggest investors.
You see, a few days ago, I got slapped in the face. Not literally, of course, but in a sense it certainly felt like it. Sometimes God’s promptings or “spiritual reality checks” feel almost physical, and it did this time. On Friday afternoon, I was out and about with my youngest sister Weasel; we were running errands around town and enjoying some quality, sister-bonding time. All was well with the world, that is, until we tried to get ahold of Rascal. She and Weasel were supposed to meet some friends for dinner, and they needed me to give them a ride. But Rascal was doing some work for her athletic training class and wasn’t able to answer the phone. As a result, we couldn’t contact her, and we didn’t know when she would be ready for me to take her to the dinner or if she would be ready in time. If she wasn’t, then I would need to give her a ride separately after taking Weasel. Now, I am not nearly as popular as my college-freshmen sisters, and I had no dinner plans, which means I should have been patient and understanding, and I should have gladly and willingly taken her separately. Theoretically. But theory doesn’t always match reality. Instead, I found myself getting incredibly annoyed. Why wasn’t she answering her phone? Didn’t she know I was hungry? Didn’t she realize that I didn’t want to wait on her all evening and that I had better things to do (even though I actually didn’t)? In other words, she was slightly inconveniencing me, and I was more than slightly annoyed by it.
Then all of a sudden, my eyes opened, and I saw myself clearly for the first time. I was being a jerk. A selfish, bratty, unloving jerk. A jerk who in no way, shape, or form resembled Jesus.
Convenience. That’s what I was basing my love on—and not just for Rascal but for everyone. Suddenly, I remembered countless instances when I failed to act lovingly, failed to be kind, failed to act like Jesus had called me to act, simply because it would have been inconvenient. I should have called that friend to check on her when I knew she was having a rough time. I should have stayed to help clean up the bleachers, so the janitors wouldn’t have to be there all night. I should have given a bigger tip to that waitress because it was obvious she was struggling to make it on her own. Time and time and time again I have fallen short. I’ve not only missed opportunities, I’ve turned up my nose and walked clear around them, like I would a mud puddle or a heap of dog doo. But people aren’t mud puddles or dog poop. They are creations of God, treasures for whom Jesus came to Earth and willingly died. But I choose not to love them because it would be too much trouble for my perfect little convenience-driven life. And that could not be more wrong.
I realize that this blog isn’t as uplifting or upbeat as normal, and I guess that’s because I am not feeling too terribly happy with myself. Coming to grips with one’s own sin is rarely an enjoyable experience. But it’s an invaluable part of our growth as believers; through discipline, God makes us more like Him.
So now that I have confessed my “inconvenient” sin to you, I propose a challenge for myself, and I would be honored if you would join me. Let’s make a choice right now, starting today, to quit loving for ourselves and our own gain. Let’s ask Jesus to help us do this thing that is so counter-intuitive, so contrary to our every inclination and nature.
Let’s love inconveniently.
Not based on what we can gain or what the other person can do for us. Not based on if we have the time in our oh-so-busy schedules. Not controlled by what we feel like doing. But simply because that’s what Jesus asks us to do. Because that’s exactly what He did for us.
Coming to Earth and being born as a baby was not convenient. Wandering around a dust-covered, dirty land without a home to call his own was not convenient. Being rejected by the people he loved and who called themselves His friends was not convenient. Being humiliated, beaten, and crucified was anything but convenient. But that didn’t stop Jesus. Because He loves us unconditionally… and inconveniently.
Will you join me in my inconvenience?