“The Bible almost promises a loss of comfort to those who follow a kingdom path, but this is a great time to shake our heads and ask: is that really what we wanted, anyhow? Did we want to get to the end and say, well, at least I was comfortable?” – Jess Connolly, You Are The Girl For The Job
Sometimes you read something that really startles you awake. When I first read the above sentence several months ago, I was actually startled by how comfortable I had become. Wasn’t I the one who had once said to myself, “I never want to be a ‘comfortable Christian’”? Yet there I was, inside my little bubble, making excuses for myself so I could wiggle my way out of losing my life for His sake. Is that really what I want?
How often do we settle into the “comfortable Christian” life of going to church, volunteering when and where it’s convenient for us, and holding others at arm’s length so we don’t have to get too involved in someone else’s messy life? How often do we take the time to ask God to search our hearts and reveal to us any hidden sin, so that we can address it and work through it with Him? When opportunities arise to get a little uncomfortable, how often do you take them?
Whenever I find myself getting a little too comfortable – when I seem too alright with ignoring a plea for help on Facebook, or scrolling past sad articles, or I’m sitting a little too comfortably with my sin, I say a prayer that is usually some version of this: God, make me uncomfortable. Give me a heart that is burdened for those who are hurting or just need a little bit of help. Help me to also seek holiness and not settle into the sin that’s in my life. Help me to face my discomfort for your glory – help me work through my sin, no matter how difficult, so that I may become more like you, and help me overcome any obstacle that may be stopping me from showing your love to others.
I find that starting with prayer is always helpful because when we ask for reminders to pay attention to these kinds of things, God usually gives them to us. I’m also a fan of sticky-notes for more tangible reminders to pay attention to opportunities to grow, whether I’m scrolling through Facebook and I notice someone needs help with something, or when I’m reading a frustrating email, emotions are rising, and I happen to glance in the direction of this sticky-note that reminds me to check myself.
Without discomfort, there is no growth. They’re called “growing pains” for a reason. If we want to continuously become more Christ-like and experience more of what God has for us, we first need to surrender our lives to him. We must become vulnerable enough to put ourselves out there as tools for God to use however he sees fit. I like how The Message paraphrase says, “Self-sacrifice is the way, my way, to finding yourself, your true self. What kind of deal is it to get everything you want but lose yourself? What could you ever trade your soul for?” (Matthew 16:25-26). What kind of deal is it to be comfortable but miss out on who you could be, and how God could use you? To live this life well, it requires sacrifice.
Too many of us fall into this trap of comfortable Christianity. Ask yourself, do you want to get to the end and say, “well, at least I was comfortable”? How is God leading you to sacrifice your comfort? Is there a specific sin in your life He’s calling you to work through? Is there an opportunity for sacrificial service that you could step into? It’s pretty much guaranteed that we’ll lose our comfort when we live a life for Jesus, but let us never forget the promise that we’ll have Him as our comforter, as well as each other, when life gets messy.
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God. For just as we share abundantly in the sufferings of Christ, so also our comfort abounds through Christ. (2 Corinthians 1:3-5 NIV)