Are We Too Comfortable?
When my daughter asked if I wanted to attend a program for her seventh-grade class, I immediately said yes. After all, how many more school programs would I be able to attend – she is my youngest. I knew the day was going to be a challenge when Stephanie came into my room 10 minutes before leaving for school saying she needed brown pants. “What?” I said. It’s not like brown pants was something I could whip up for a 7th grader. When I said we didn’t have any she left my room holding back the tears. I took a deep breath, put my mommy brain to work and remembered I had just gotten a brown sweat suit, so I gave her my sweat pants so she could be a tree in the program. (News to me!)
I got to school and to my surprise there were only a handful of parents. After a chaotic beginning, the program started. The only problem was the place was freezing on one of the coldest days of the year. I shivered for four hours, wrapped up in my coat, scarf, gloves, and boots. Under my breath, I grumbled wondering why the heat wasn’t on. Finally, it was time for lunch. Warmth and good food, I thought.
I proceeded to lunch with 150 seventh graders. The room was so packed I literally couldn’t move and barely could find a seat. Seventh grade boys at my end of the table smashed all of the fortune cookies for dessert and threw the crumbs all over the table, laughing furiously. Famished, I couldn’t believe it when lunch was Chinese food (one of the few foods I don’t like!). My complaining heart emerged again. I couldn’t get out of there fast enough to go home, warm up, and eat!
While thawing out with my heating pad, I heard that gentle whisper of the Holy Spirit, “So you were uncomfortable…good! The Christian life is all about being uncomfortable. It’s not about you and your comfort, but following me at all costs, and that means being uncomfortable.” Wow, did that hit me. So often I have the mindset that comfort is my right and isn’t the culture – and even the church - constantly seducing us with that message? I have to admit that all too often I fall into the comfort trap. Why is it such a problem? Because in the end, it can be our comfort that keeps us from living the life Christ wants us to live, putting our focus entirely on self. I know that’s where my focus was that morning and I was miserable! Who knows what eternal opportunities I missed.
Our pursuit for comfort can get in the way of the greater things of the kingdom. I wonder if it isn’t that desire that keeps us from going deeper with God? Jill Briscoe has a quote I love, “It’s better to be sleep deprived than God deprived.” Now, that’s uncomfortable. We’re so good at avoiding the uncomfortable, aren’t we? If I’m really honest, if I had known what things were going to be like that day, I might have been tempted to take a pass. How many things are we tempted to take a pass on in the Christian life because they’re uncomfortable? Maybe God’s been prodding us to go on a mission trip to a remote part of the world with no showers or toilets, or reach out to people we have nothing in common with, or get our hands dirty serving the poor, or maybe it’s considering adoption, or going without, or downsizing, or making a financial sacrifice, or fasting for a pressing need once a week. Francis Chan, in his book Crazy Love says, “Living an uncomfortable life means not being worried about being shielded from pain or distress, living lives that connect us with the poor and broken, or doing things that don’t make sense in terms of success or wealth…it’s caring more about the kingdom than our own comfort.” I don’t know what it is for you, but I know there is an uncomfortable call in all of our lives. Are we willing to lay our comforts aside to really hear that call and obey? Dietrich Bonhoeffer said, “The first call every Christian experiences is the call to abandon the attachments of this world.” Comfort is one of those attachments.
Christianity was never meant to be easy or comfortable. Just examine Jesus and the disciples’ lives. In fact, real discipleship is quite the contrary. The life of a believer is one of denying oneself, taking up our crosses, laying aside our security, money, convenience, and sharing everything we have. It’s abandoning all comforts for the sake of the gospel.
I left the program that day not only getting a lesson on India and China, but an unexpected lesson on the kind of life God is calling me to, realizing that He isn’t the least bit interested in my comfort - especially if it means missing the deeper things He wants to show me and to do. Yes, to follow Christ is to be uncomfortable. May God give us the courage to live uncomfortably for His sake!