Monday, October 12, 2015

God Is Not Supportive of Your "Comfort Zone" (Bleeding In the Zone of Universal Discomfort)

Baptism in the uncomfortable 37 degree waters of Lake Michigan, 10/10/15
On occasion I hear someone speak about their "comfort zone." This refers to the environment they feel comfort in. The arena where they feel safe. The place where they are not for the most part "uncomfortable." 

I think I understand this. It's utilitarianism gone berserk in the absence of God. It's the H-god. It's "Happiness" - "Clap along if you think that happiness is the truth, Because I'm happy." (See The Happiness Industry: How the Government and Big Business Sold Us Well-Being. See also: "If Everything Is So Amazing, Why's Nobody Happy?") 

The idea of a "comfort zone" is a historically recent European and North American invention which has nothing to do with God's plans and purposes. (See Happiness Industry - the "comfort zone" is rooted in the utilitarianism of Jeremy Bentham.) You will find great promises of peace and rest throughout the Scriptures. You will not find comfort zone maintenance there.

In Scripture we see that what really pleases God is "faith." We are told that without faith it is impossible to please God.

Which means: without following Jesus on his redemptive mission to the world it is impossible to please God. Which entails going into places and situations and the lives of people where, to be honest, you would rather not go. (See here, e.g.) Faith always goes from comfort to discomfort. That is its nature.

"Faith" is RISK. Obedience by faith always takes us into the Discomfort Zone for the Cause of Christ. Think here of missionaries. Then, think of yourself as a missionary planted where you are. 

This past week 11 Jesus-followers in Syria had their fingers chopped off before they were brutalized, beaten, raped, beheaded, and then hung on crosses(see international news reports here). Because they refused to deconvert from Christianity and convert to Islam. Two Christian women, aged 28 and 33, were raped in front of their spiritual brothers and sisters. A UK news report reads:

"The reports of the savagery came from a ministry leader Christian Aid assists, who spoke with relatives and villagers.

“Villagers said some were praying in the name of Jesus, others said some were praying the Lord’s Prayer, and others said some of them lifted their heads to commend their spirits to Jesus,” the ministry director said.
“One of the women looked up and seemed to be almost smiling as she said, ‘Jesus!’”
Their bodies were hung on crosses for display after they were killed, he added."
As Jesus died on the cross he was bleeding in the Zone of Universal Discomfort, for you and me. He did not come to furnish your man-cave. He calls us to a life of faith that is accomplished by cross-bearing into this world's present darkness. 

In Revelation 14:4 we read this about the martyrs who refused to worship the beast: They follow the Lamb wherever he goes.

It will be uncomfortable. 

It will be redemptive.

The people will rejoice.