The inconvenient God

Photo by Jessica Lewis on

A friend of ours, Anna, is training for Church of England ordination and recently was asked to take an RE lesson in school.  She asked the children to suggest words and phrases that they associate with God.  What is God like?  One child responded:

God is inconvenient”

What an incredible and honest statement, there’s the making of a sermon, essay or even book title there.  The inconvenient God contrasts with our little convenient idols.  We want a god or gods who are available on our terms to meet our needs.  We want a god to answer our prayers, to make life easier, to help us achieve our goals.

We also want God to accommodate to our life schedules.  I mean, we even set up church around that don’t we? Is 11:00 on a Sunday morning too inconvenient?  Does it clash with shopping or sports? That’s okay. We have the 0930, 1700 and 1900 options too.[1] Not only that, when life gets busy, when we have other challenges and priorities we expect to be able to put God on hold and come back to him when we are good and ready.

A convenient god is one who exists on our terms and is there primarily to meet our needs.

But God is not like that.  The true and living God cannot be convenient because if he is God then we and this world exist at his pleasure and for his glory, not the other way round.  The inconvenient God is disruptive because our agendas have to be ripped up and shredded in the light of his better mission. 

Christmas asks us to choose between a convenient god and the inconvenient God. The god that fits into our merry Xmas, with sweet carols about a baby, cute scenes to appear on cards and lovely parts for our kids to play in the nativity is a convenient god. This convenient god is there for peace, love and families.

The inconvenient God of Christmas disrupted the life of a young unmarried lady, possibly a teenager. She and her fiance had their lives, dreams and plans severely disrupted as God drew them into his salvation purposes.

The inconvenient God of Christmas disrupted and challenged the religious leaders and power brokers at Herod’s court.

The inconvenient God of Christmas was the one who received a gift of myrrh pointing away from the quaintness of a nativity scene to the brutal reality of a coming death. True peace came through that death.

God is inconvenient because he disagrees with us, with our plans and priorities. God is inconvenient because he shows up at the most inconvenient times, when life is busy, messy, difficult chaotic.  Yet, he shows up exactly at those points because that’s where we most need him.

[1] To be clear, I’ve happily and willingly added in service times in order to provide as many opportunities for people to gather as possible. I’d do it again in a heartbeat for those who are genuinely hungry for Jesus.  However, I do see and have witnessed the danger of this being seen as about convenience. 

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