Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Out of the Comfort Zone and Into the Fire



Downtown Monroe

On occasion I hear someone speak about their "comfort zone." Like: "Sorry, but what God wants me to do is out of my comfort zone."

The comfort zone is the environment where they feel safe. This is the place where they are not, for the most part, uncomfortable. This is a kind of self-utilitarian approach to life; viz., do what gives me the most comfort most of the time, and the least pain most of the time.

I think I understand this. It's the American 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. It has nothing to do with God's plans and purposes. (See Happiness Industry - the "comfort zone" is rooted in the utilitarianism of Jeremy Bentham.) Yes, we find great promises of peace and rest throughout the Scriptures. No, 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. "Faith" and "comfort zone" do not overlap. We do not read the book of Hebrews saying, By faith Abraham stayed in his comfort zone.


If we stay in our comfort zones, it will be impossible to please God. Faith entails going into places and situations and the lives of people where, to be honest, we would rather not go. (See here, e.g.) Faith moves from comfort to discomfort. That is its nature.


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

As Jesus died on the cross he was bleeding in the Zone of Universal Discomfort, for you and I. He was not there to furnish our man-caves with decorative crosses. He calls us to a life of faith that is accomplished by cross-bearing, within the enemy territory of this world's present darkness. We move out of the comfort zone and into the fire.

In Revelation 14:4 we read this about the martyrs who refused to worship the beast: They follow the Lamb wherever he goes. It was uncomfortable. Their suffering was redemptive. 


God ties a belt around us and leads us in places we would rather not go.