A couple of days ago I got a phone call from a good friend of mine. We had the usual chit chat, but our conversation eventually lead to discussing the bridal shower I was throwing for her the upcoming week. She brought up how in the past week or two she had been really preoccupied with how much of an inconvenience it would be to me. She was nervous about all the stress and organization I was going to take on. Every time we talked about the party, our conversation went from excitement to convincing her that I was happy to throw the party for her. It wasn’t any trouble and it was something I wanted to do for her.
After talking to her for a while, my perspective changed. I realized that I was being inconvenienced. I realized that I was spending a good chunk of time organizing, that there was a cost involved, and that I would have to rearrange my house for the party, but this was something that I was excited to do to help celebrate her upcoming wedding. I have since come to realize that inconvenience is just an aspect of how we love others. Love is not deserved; no one can earn love because no one is perfect. We are called to love people despite failings and shortcomings; we are called to give love in especially difficult circumstances. Christ loved us despite the ultimate inconvenience to himself, dying on the cross in our place. It says in John 15:13 “Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.” (ESV)
Here’s an example to clarify. You come home and you see dirty dishes in the sink that aren’t yours. You don’t know whose they are, but because you love the people in your home, you allow yourself to be inconvenienced and you do the dishes out of love for that person. Another example could be that you made plans with a friend. They cancel on you last minute. You’re sitting in the coffee shop, waiting for them to show up only to look over to your phone and see that you got a message that they can’t make it. Out of love, you forgive them despite the hassle and move on with your day.
Thinking about love with this new perspective, the question then becomes, who do you allow yourself to be inconvenienced by? In the United States we have a culture of efficiency. Cutting people off in traffic is a mortal sin punishable by curse words and shaking of fists. Taking too long in the checkout line will get you heavy sighs and eye rolls. Even though these situations seem simple or mundane, it reveals a little bit about our hearts. When our close friends or loved ones mess up we don’t see it as a burden because we choose to love them. People not in those categories, however, are an inconvenience and sometimes avoided. Jesus called us to love the least of these, not just the ones closest to us. Love is not an exchange; sometimes it is very difficult as it requires taking the bad with the good. In order to mirror Christ we need to realize that as a culture we leave ourselves very limited to who we are willing to love and how we are willing to love them. So I challenge you to look at your life and evaluate how easily you allow yourself to be inconvenienced.