There’s something in all of us that loves the easy chair, that wants to sink back into the Jacuzzi, that melts when massaged, that delights in having grapes brought to us as we lounge. Life is hard enough, don’t we deserve a little pampering?
Of course a little comfort goes a long way. The trouble is that, when it becomes a lifestyle, we may be sailing in rough spiritual waters. Something insidious climbs inside us and begins to exert control. Perfectly normal people begin to whine and become demanding.
If you look at America, an entire generation is growing up with an expectation that life should be comfortable and fun. Having done nothing to earn the lifestyle, they become presumptuous. And so, we parents raise ingrates who, when they come of age, thumb their noses at us and the things we hold dear. That’s why I’m such a proponent of the World Race. It starts out being about adventure, but over time, it requires simplicity and identification with the poor, and in the process it teaches the hard but essential lesson of abandon.
Jesus asked his disciples to abandon not only all creature comforts, but to live as strangers in the world. He said, “I have not come to bring peace, but a sword.” His interaction with the rich, young ruler might as well be with any of a hundred thousand Christians living in East Cobb. He said, “Go and sell your possessions and give to the poor.” Matthew 19:21 He preached a gospel not of consumption but of self-denial when he said, “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself.” Scripture repeatedly tells us to consider trials and persecution to be normal. What is it about a comfortable life that is dangerous?
Three issues in particular should trouble us when we feel the tug to be comfortable.
It insulates us
By limiting our exposure to pain, we lose our activist compassionate edge. We become soft and flabby, unable to do the spiritual heavy lifting that Jesus has called us to. Suffering makes us aware of our weakness, and in so doing, keeps us dependent on God for our strength. Comfortable people over time become self-reliant.
It’s an imposter
Comfort creates the illusion that we were created to domesticate this world. In contrast, the Bible says we are strangers here. Comfortable people believe that life owes them something, whereas Jesus only promised pain and conflict. In pursuing comfort, we take the broad road leading to distraction.
You can never be comfortable enough. There are no limits on those who have embraced comfort as a value and goal. There is always one more new thing that potentially could make life even more comfortable.
Yeah, mint juleps and lounging by the pool have their place in a person’s life. But there is no firm footing on that slippery slope. The only certainty to be found is in the uncertain path of abandon that Jesus himself walked.
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I'm motivated to join God in his global reclamation project. He's on the move, setting his sons and daughters free from their places of captivity. And he's partnering with those of us who have been freed to go and free others.