Am I Too Comfortable?
I have a strange but true confession to make: I'm a little uncomfortable about how comfortable my life has been lately. I'm working a job I enjoy. Have a wonderful roommate. I like the area I live in. I enjoy my church. I have good, fun friends. I make enough money to live comfortably, tithe and put a little money away each month.
All of those things are huge blessings, and I'm not discounting that, but sometimes I think I'm getting a little too comfortable—comfortable enough to the point where I subconsciously think I don't really need God.
And I have a sneaking suspicion I'm not alone in this. I would venture to guess that the majority of Americans (or, at least middle to upper-class Americans) live fairly comfy lives—we don't wonder where our next meal will come from, or worry that our home might get hit by an airstrike, or risk getting thrown in jail just for practicing our religion. That's not to say we have no problems, but in the grand scheme of things, they are usually decidedly "First World problems."
Obviously, that's not a bad thing. We should be tremendously thankful.
But sometimes, when your problems are small, your view of God can become small, too.
I've found this happening in my own life. Bible reading and prayer are side thoughts, luxuries for when I "have enough time" or "feel like it." (I put those in quotes because those are the lies I tell myself to justify not making time for God.) If I'm honest, I generally think I can handle things and prayer is for emergencies—or just the big stuff in my life that I know is not in my control. I talk and think and write about big issues like social justice and human trafficking and racial reconciliation and evangelism in the theoretical realm, but I don't really take concrete steps toward living those things out in my everyday life.
Here's the thing though: I think, to some degree, the Gospel calls us out of our comfort zones. Not because God wants us to suffer or be miserable, but because He calls us to join in His redeeming work in this world. He calls us to love our neighbors (Mark 12:31) and our enemies (Matthew 5:44-47), to serve the poor and needy (Matthew 25:34-40), to heal the sick and to speak up for and seek justice (Proverbs 31:8-9; Zechariah 7:9-10; Micah 6:8).
Most of those things are extremely uncomfortable.
Truly loving the people Jesus calls us to love (and, to clarify, that covers just about everyone) requires us to engage with, listen to and care for people who don't think, act or look like us. People who are incredibly hard to love. People who have nothing to give in return. Even people who hate us.
Serving the poor and needy may mean opening our minds and hearts to heartbreaking realities that we often just gloss over and try to ignore. It may require us to give our time, resources and energy (both physical and emotional) to care for others we typically wouldn't interact with.
Seeking justice may mean having awkward conversations; speaking up/lobbying/protesting for change; doing more research into the supply chains of companies we buy from and then adjusting our buying habits.
I have to admit, I'm really terrible at those things. I love that most of the people I interact with are pretty easy to love. I enjoy doing whatever I want with my limited free time (usually binge-watching shows on Netflix and hanging out with aforementioned easy-to-love people). I try to be generous with my money—but only as long as there's a good margin in my budget.
I'm really good at comfortable.
But lately, I feel like God has shown me that comfort is a huge idol for me, and I've felt Him calling me to surrender that to Him. Translation for those not fluent in Christianese: I feel compelled to move my thoughts and words on important issues into action. I'm not entirely sure what that looks like for me, and it might take a while to figure it out, but I'm trying to start the process. And I think that's a healthy thing for everyone to think through.
This isn't meant to be a guilt trip. None of us are going to do this perfectly, and, as I mentioned before, it's not like we have to be suffering in order to be serving God. I think God calls all of us out of our comfort zones in different ways. Some people go overseas to pursue full-time missions. Some move to the inner-city. Some run for political office. Some stay in the same small town for decades, faithfully loving and caring for people in their community.
Getting out of our comfort zone is not about trying to please God or make Him love us more. It's not about just trying harder to be a good person. God isn't mad or disappointed with us when we're living comfortably. He doesn't love us any more on the days we're out serving the poor than He does when we're sitting on the couch mindlessly scrolling through our Facebook news feeds.
He gave up His comfort in the form of coming to live on earth, undeservedly taking on our sins and and being executed in order to be in relationship with us and to live in us through the Holy Spirit—which spurs us to go to uncomfortable places and love people who are really hard to love because He unconditionally loved us first.